Managing Stress, an essential for healing

We have all heard over and over again how important it is to bring down stress levels for our mental, emotional and physical health.

I recently followed a video presentation about how stress impacts gut health. All the presenters – doctors, naturopaths and health educators – emphasized the central role of a healthy, ‘happy’ gut for overall health. Further they all stated that unless stress is reduced, all the healthy foods and natural supplements have limited effect. They all expressed in one way or another the need to bring body/mind into the relaxed parasympathetic state to promote well-being and healing.

How do you bring the body/mind into a relaxed mode when you have not only the daily stresses of your everyday life, but you are faced with a serious illness?

Your first priority is to gain some perspective and reduce your fear and worry to a level that allows you to think and act constructively. I have an article posted on my website – Two Empowering Strategies for Managing Fear following a Diagnosis. I want to highlight a few sections of that report.

The two strategies are -
1) managing fear in the moment
and
2) getting knowledge.
In this article, I am going to make a few comments about managing fear in the moment.

The first step is to acknowledge your fear and know that it is a natural reaction. However, it need not paralyze you. There are tools to help you reduce and manage it. It’s OK to feel fear and still move forward. You don’t have to get rid of all your fear to do so.

Talking about your fears with someone who can really listen to you with compassion and calmness is most supportive and can help you stay present. Remember your fear is for what might happen in the future. What you fear hasn’t happened and may never happen. Your fear is for an imagined future that has no reality in the now. The only reality is in the present.

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Catch yourself when your thoughts run ahead to what you fear might happen and bring yourself back to the present and what you can do. Be as present as much as you can. Take one day at a time and do whatever you can do for yourself each day.

Avoid taking on other people’s fears and projections. You want to surround yourself with those who are open to a healing perspective and are not projecting their fears onto you.

Develop a simple routine to help calm yourself and de-stress. Here are a few ideas:
- mindful breathing – example: slow, easy, deep breaths into your lower abdomen (belly breath) to count of 4 seconds, hold for 4, exhale to count of 8, hold for 4.
- meditation or guided visualization – there are many available online. Example: ‘Assisting in Your Own Healing’ by Louise Hay on Youtube; mediations by Deepak Chopra, Bernie Siegel
- simple body movements – stretches, dance, yoga
- walks in nature – you can also create your own visualizations of your favourite walks, real or imagined. You can take yourself to anywhere in the world – a tropical paradise, a quiet lake or beautiful sandy beach by the ocean, a meadow or garden full of flowers.

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The most healing actions you can take for yourself is to nurture calm and foster trust in your body/mind’s natural ability to heal itself.

I invite you to share one of your own de-stressing or calming strategies on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Dr.NelieJohnson/.

To access the full report – Two Empowering Strategies for Managing Fear following a Diagnosis – click here.