Deal With Stress

How Stress Can Affect Health

Close your eyes and breathe deeply to change how stress can affect healthWhen a body is continuously exposed to challenges without any relief or rest, it creates negative stress. Negative stress has a profound impact on your body, mind, and spirit, which can result in mental/physical illness and/or depression. When this happens your body will signal you through pain, sleeplessness, fatigue, anxiety,
involuntary body movement (tics), a racing heart, a heaviness in the chest, lump in the throat, and a myriad of other symptoms.

I had felt a lump in my throat for many months and was concerned that it was the beginning of a serious health condition. Eventually I went to the doctor, who iagnosed it as stress. There are some philosophies that would say the lump was my body’s reaction to my inability to defend myself during a long period of stress. I felt stifled and therefore the words were stuck in my throat.

I grew up observing many family members and friends suffering with a variety of health concerns, which included obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, fibromyalgia, dementia and allergies. They all endured years of mental and physical stress in their work and personal life. I have concluded that the crux of the world’s health issues come from obesity and stress.

The body is designed with the most amazing systems, including circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, lymphatic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal, and urinary. Our body also has a wonderful physiological process of healing, which creates the cells in the body to regenerate and repair. However, negative stress abuses our body and over time causes systems to break down.

Perhaps you have heard the idiom, “A well-oiled machine runs well.” That is the way your body can feel when you are taking care of yourself. When you find relief from stress, get adequate rest, exercise, eat healthy, and have plenty of joy in your life your body can run like “a well-oiled machine.”

It is very important to be totally present to how your body responds during diverse times in your life. It is equally important to learn how your body feels without pain and stress. Therefore, I invite you to take a few moments to relax your body. Begin by taking in a deep nourishing breath. Feel your lungs and stomach fill with air. Hold for a count of 10 then release your breath slowly and allow your stomach to flatten. Do this a few more times. You can return to your normal breathing or continue to breathe in and out slowly. Close your eyes if you wish or focus on an object in the room. Mentally place your attention at the top of your head and just notice how it feels. Slowly work down your body just gently noticing how each part feels. Relax your jaw and open your hands so that your fingers are not touching.

How does your face, neck, shoulders, chest, etc. feel? If you feel tension at any part, place your intention on relaxing that area. Sometimes imagining that you are breathing into the tension can also loosen tightness. Continue working down the body until you reach the tips of your toes. If you wish you can begin at your toes and work up.

After opening your eyes or taking your focus away from an object you may want to write down how you feel. If you are able to find a relaxed state by doing this exercise then you have discovered how your body feels in its natural state of being. I have used this exercise at night, prior to sleep. Oftentimes I am asleep before reaching my toes.

Perhaps the “Flower Child” or “Hippie” of the late sixties and early seventies had the right idea. I am not advocating their entire lifestyle. However, loving your neighbor, creating peace, giving kindness, and non-violent protest sound like a good start to a stress free life.

I welcome your comments or thoughts.

About the Author

Melody (Mel) Lutterman is an ICF-Trained-Certified Life Coach and the creator of She works with individuals, like herself, who experience chronic pain and fatigue. She believes that experiencing good days is a birthright and partners with clients to find what uniquely works for them.


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