Stress is a general term we all can identify with. Yet, the various forms of stress may not be readily recognizable. Some forms can be downright dangerous to your health. Can you tell the difference between normal and unhealthy stress?
Stress is normal if it’s controlled and limited to healthy bodily function. Consider lifting a 20-pound weight. The bicep responds to the weight stress and the muscle strengthens normally. This is good. Now a 50-pound weight for many people can seriously damage the muscle if they are not tolerant to that weight. This is abnormal and damaging stress. How do we deal with unhealthy stress? The key is to first recognize that prolonged, uncontrolled and excessive stress in any form – mental, emotional or physical, weakens and eventually destroys normal bodily function; and secondly, to then take immediate action to mitigate any excessive stress in your life. If you are fatigued, burnt-out, depressed, or in pain and experience abnormal changes in your body you have unresolved stress in your life. The stress may stem from hormone imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, diet, sleep issues, environmental toxicity, or even inappropriate thought processes that lead to choices that sabotage your wellness. These examples of unresolved stresses form the perpetuating factors of disease.
Let’s focus on environmental toxins which have become a common and increasing contributor to mental, physical and emotional stress. Sadly we live in an ever increasingly toxic world. Certain toxins we can control our exposure to, others less so, however, we all can detoxify on a regular basis. Toxic stress affects our body’s ability to regulate. Consider a thermostat in your house. If it no longer regulates the temperature in the room you have a significant problem, especially if it’s minus 10 degrees Celsius outside. Now think of your body. If it cannot regulate and eliminate toxic substances effectively you will begin to create functional disturbances in some areas (usually the weakest organ or tissue).
A functional disturbance is often recognized as a symptom or indication that something is wrong, yet no obvious disorder exists or has yet been established. The symptoms may be general like fatigue, apathy, pain, or inflammation. They tend to come on gradually and at first appearance may not be readily explainable. In fact they tend to “sneak up on you.” Your blood tests are normal but you don’t feel normal. Perpetuation of these symptoms without correcting the imbalance inevitably leads to further problems that quite possibly escalate your risk for serious diseases. Masking these symptoms with suppressive drug or non-drug therapy never gets to the root cause and can set up a perpetuating factor for future disease. You may temporarily feel better but the question becomes, “has anything really changed for the better?”
There are treatments, tests, and technologies available to analyze and detect functional disturbances in your body well before any major condition develops. Adopting a positive mindset will also immediately begin to help you. The key point is to take inventory of all your stresses, engage in a conscious program to reduce or eliminate them early and you will stay ahead of the game. Your reward will be that you will feel better and be healthier. You can be healthy and you can do it!
Yours in health,
Dr. Lorne Swetlikoff, B.Sc, ND