Lately I have been hearing a lot of people talk about ailments that they are assuming are stress-related. Uh, what? This baffles me because I don’t feel like we should get so stressed that it causes physical or physiological harm to our bodies! According to the Mayo Clinic:
Common effects of stress … … On your body … On your mood … On your behavior · Headache · Muscle tension or pain · Chest pain · Fatigue · Change in sex drive · Stomach upset · Sleep problems · Anxiety · Restlessness · Lack of motivation or focus · Irritability or anger · Sadness or depression · Overeating or undereating · Angry outbursts · Drug or alcohol abuse · Tobacco use · Social withdrawal
Over the past few years, three of the five members of my immediate family have been diagnosed with some form of cancer. We began to wonder if it wasn’t something in our house. Or was it stress-related?
Never thought about that, until today someone was mentioning a friend had said they thought their own cancer had come from stress. I know. Everything causes cancer. And, just so you know, I sort of hate when people say that considering how much cancer I’ve seen lately, in my own family and friends. But I get it… I used to say it too.
So, the whole conversation got me thinking. What can stress really do to your body? I know it makes you tired and likely weakens your immune system… But what are the implications? I decided to ask my old pal, Google. He led me to his friend, the National Cancer Institute which told me:
Stress that is chronic can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, and various other illnesses. Stress also can lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating, smoking, or abusing drugs or alcohol, that may affect cancer risk.
NCI also told me about stress and its link to cancer:
Studies done over the past 30 years that examined the relationship between psychological factors, including stress, and cancer risk have produced conflicting results. Although the results of some studies have indicated a link between various psychological factors and an increased risk of developing cancer, a direct cause-and-effect relationship has not been proven. Some studies have indicated an indirect relationship between stress and certain types of virus-related tumors. Evidence from both animal and human studies suggests that chronic stress weakens a person’s immune system, which in turn may affect the incidence of virus-associated cancers, such as Kaposi sarcoma and some lymphomas. More recent research with animal models (animals with a disease that is similar to or the same as a disease in humans) suggests that the body’s neuroendocrine response (release of hormones into the blood in response to stimulation of the nervous system) can directly alter important processes in cells that help protect against the formation of cancer, such as DNA repair and the regulation of cell growth.
Who knows what to think.
When I came out of the hospital in November for some health issues and then had my own cancer scare, I decided I was going to:
- Eat only organic
- Wear lots of sunscreen
- Not drink diet soda
- Stop using fake sugar
- Really just stop eating sugar
- Clean using safe products
- Use only natural healthcare products
- Make my own healthcare products (toothpaste, shampoo, soap)
- Live in a bubble.
I mean, really, if you want to avoid getting cancer you need to live in a bubble. That’s BPA free. Careful which bubble you choose.And don’t get stressed or it could cause cancer.
I don’t mean to make light of this. I have lost too many loved ones to cancer and like I said, I have had my own scare along with watching immediate family members battle the disease.
My point is: don’t live your life trying to avoid something you just can’t, AND don’t let yourself get so stressed! Take a walk, do some yoga, eat a bowl of ice cream, laugh with a friend, color in a coloring book, dance, listen to music, you get the idea!
What have you found helps you to relieve stress? Normally, I like to run, but can’t do that right now. I have found that doing something artistic/creative is stress-relieving for me. I like sending people encouraging cards in the mail, so often when stressed I’ll make those. It helps me to focus on positive things (thinking of positive, encouraging things to write) and is nice to do some work with my hands.
Oh, P.S.! Don’t make your stress reliever something unhealthy (like… oh, downin’ a bottle of Jack!)! Do something good for you that also helps relieve ya stress!