Chinese say “in the body, there is either ease or dis-ease” and the fact that in English language disease is a synonym for illness shows that western civilization used to know this too.
Prolonged exposure to stress has devastating effects on our health yet little is done by our medical establishment to address this issue. Even the awareness of a threat that stress poses is missing in modern culture. Most of us eat when hungry, cover up when cold but when feeling stressed we treat it as a part of life, something we’re supposed to power through.
At it’s fundamental, stress can be seen as friction between reality and our expectation of what realty should look like. Because of this, we say that how much we stress has a lot to do with our expectations. This is why most of us feel relived once considering that our life’s circumstance could have been to dig coal 3000 meters below ground, 6 days a week for years on end.
Using this “worse case scenario” is meant to trigger gratitude for one’s place in the world – this is a spiritual way to deal with stress. In fact, Spirituality is by far the most powerful tool for stress management. It takes some time to change our expectations and awareness and for results to show up so the sooner we start this approach, the better. Every culture, every race, across time has created spiritual conversations. Spirituality must exist for a reason and we should use it daily to improve our lives.
Religion is not spirituality, especially organized religion but there are many useful spiritual conversations inside the religious domain. The most widely known is probably the philosophical side of Buddhism and it’s idea that “our desires and attachments create our suffering” but many works outside of religious sphere offer just as good of a start.
Gratitude and generating gratitude for things we have in our lives is a good example of using spirituality in our lives. Focusing on things we have is a path to happiness while getting on things missing creates more desire and more stress.
Focusing on oneself all the time is actually a stressor but most people do that and only that these days. Everything revolves around satisfying our needs, from the basic ones of food and shelter to our physical and sexual pleasure. We have forgotten to look at others, their suffering and how to help someone else out. This is one of powerful ways to erase streets: take time off of oneself and volunteer to help others.
Two other ways to immediately address stress are aerobic exercise and meditation. Both increase our oxygen intake but aerobic exercise also forces blood through the body thus physically “breaking through” the tensions created by stress. Problem is, unless we remove the cause of stress, it will keep producing barriers to healthy flow – physical “pushing through”is not addressing the problem, just the symptom.
Acupuncture is another, powerful way to address stress and it’s damage. Not only does it stimulate the body to repeat itself but by using “block treatments”, Acupuncturist removes the blocks in the flow of blood and/or electricity. This allows the body to keep repairing and build up more resilience towards future stress.