Well, its huge. It is estimated by health experts that some 75- 90% of visits to a primary care doctor are related to stress (1). So, it’s safe to say that if we are able to lessen and deal with our stress better, our illness rates should drop. I know what you’re thinking… easier said than done. How do I lower my stress with my demanding job, busy home life, kids, partner, friends etc.?
Before we dive in how to lower or better said become more neutral with our stress, lets chat first about how it causes dis-ease stores in the body in the first place.
Stressful events cause changes in gene expression (2) which can lead to an enormous number of problems, as well as stress can create proteins which store in various organ systems of the body.
Let’s use an easy example – someone says something mean to you and you immediately feel it in your stomach or your heart, you feel your blood pressure rise, your face gets flushed, you utter a cuss word or two in your head– those are all example of stress affecting the body. We know from scans and from our research that stress actually can alter the brain (6).
Now depending on who this person is to you and/or what they said, you may process this stressful event easily and let it go without it causing any problems in the body. The other outcome is they will trigger a deeper issue and that bigger stress lives in the body until you deal with it.
We have all experienced big stresses or “trauma”; an angry boss, an un unreasonable mother-in-law, an ex… you get it. We all have “trauma” and “trauma” is relative, and it definitely affects the body. We see this time and time again.
So now that we have established that when stress occurs it produces proteins, and those proteins can cause damage to the body, we want to know how to release them before they cause further damage… am I right?
Studies show that when we are under the age of 8, we operate almost completely from our subconscious brain. When a child is born, they have no logic, reason or inhibitory processes. To make their needs known they use primitive mechanisms (4). Which means as children we aren’t really able to rationalize trauma. We create a lot of belief systems when we are young and patterns. Most of what is stressful or triggering as an adult originates from our childhood.
This doesn’t mean you should feel guilty as parents, or email me about how amazing your family was… this is just creating awareness. Children operate as little narcissists and believe that most things are because of them. So even the most amazing parent will accidentally co-create a pattern or belief system because we are not in control how other people view their reality.
Let me say this in a different way. We all have our own emotional reality which often doesn’t link up with historical facts (3). If parents are arguing in front of their child, each person in the scene will have a different reality of what is going on. The child’s will be different than the mom’s and mom’s different than the other parent.
Our brain is very good at filling in the gaps and creating a whole story about something that might not have even happened that way (3). Wild right?
And often times our brain makes it worse than it was. Thanks brain 😉
This is not a hopeless situation, it’s something to understand and be aware of and trust that everyone is doing the best they can. As adults, if we understand that stress can alter genes or that trauma is still stored in our bodies, we are then able to do something about it! The body is amazing and these proteins are able to be released and health can be restored. As long as we know that we are not a victim to our past.
So, what is the mechanism of release and what does that even mean?
There are many mechanisms to healing trauma or stress in the nervous system. As a doctor I have my favorite methods just as other docs have theirs. One of my favorite tools is muscle testing. Muscle testing uses applied kinesiology to communicate with my patient’s nervous system and guides me to what needs to be addressed.
As a naturopathic doctor we look at the body as a whole which includes the mind and spirit. We understand that the emotional component is just as important as any underlying physiology like food allergies, chronic pathogens, heavy metal toxicity, mold etc. In fact, healing the emotional component usually helps to heal other imbalances in the body.
It is estimated that to a degree all autoimmune conditions have a root in trauma (5).
My favorite techniques are neuro emotional technique, meditation, EFT, NLP, NHS etc. There are many other great ones out there, but I am most familiar with these.
In NET aka neuro emotional technique, we use muscle testing to find what the body is ready to release. Then, we are present with that memory from the past or the trigger that is happening currently, while simultaneously holding acupressure points or parts of the body in order to help those proteins to move and clear. The body can then re-wire (7).
My patients like to say it’s months of talk therapy in seconds, and while NET isn’t comparable to talk therapy, the idea is that we can ask the body where it’s holding this trauma and in seconds give it the tools it needs to let it go.
Being present with our trauma and pain in a way we couldn’t when we were younger is so powerful. Witnessing the body in a new way while feeling safe allows our body to heal.
So, when looking at your own health picture, don’t push aside clearing old stress, it might be the key to unlocking your health.
- America’s Leading Adult Health Problem, by Paul J. Rosch, M.D., F.A.C.P., in USA Magazine, May 1991.