No, there is no way! Not another bad doctor’s report. First there was Epstein Barr, then Systemic Strep, Mycoplasma Pneumonia, and now this……..Lyme disease. I sat in the doctor’s office in disbelief. I had been fighting for my health for years: insomnia, chronic anxiety, mysterious joint pain, severe asthma, chronic fatigue – I was falling in and out of hopelessness. I was so tired of going to doctors, facing insurmountable medical bills, not being able to exercise, not being fully present for my kids, I rarely smiled and hardly laughed – I was too busy fighting the fear of the unknown.

My doctor asked me something that at the time I thought was a stupid question, “Are you under stress?” Um, let me see: I just lost my home, had to declare bankruptcy, newly divorced, I am homeschooling my last child, trying to build a career and taking care of my elderly mom who was just diagnosed with dementia. So I’m under a little stress – what does that have to do with anything? Apparently a lot.

Studies show that there is a very high correlation between patients experiencing emotional stress and the onset of disease. Sadly, not only does chronic stress cause disease, but the disease itself also causes significant stress which creates a vicious cycle.

Everyone on the face of the planet experiences stress in one form or another. Stress is actually a natural reaction to both positive and negative experiences that can be beneficial to our health and for our safety.

The problem is not short term stress – the health issue concerning stress stems from chronic, long term stressors and the severe strain it places on the body’s system. Long term stress can be physically and psychologically debilitating causing:

  • Anxiety, depression, insomnia
  • Breathing problems, hypertension
  • Stomachaches, heartburn, nausea
  • Headaches, body aches, tight muscles
  • Susceptibility to infections

So what is a person to do? You don’t always have control over the circumstances in your life, but there are things you can control. You can control how you react to stress – thus limiting the negative effects to your body. The first step is awareness – know it exists and acknowledge what it is doing to you.

After you recognize it exists, develop a management strategy plan. Remember your body was not intended to withstand long term stress so be diligent in executing your plan.

The ability to relax is at the very core of any program to reduce stress and anxiety. Make sure your plan includes:

  • Taking small breaks in your day
  • Practicing deep relaxation techniques; including breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Prayer

I’m happy to report that by following the above steps, my health has improved significantly. The diseases are almost in remission and I laugh quite a bit now. Last piece of advice, don’t forget to laugh. According to an article in helpguide.org, laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel good chemicals. These promote an overall sense of wellbeing. This is no joke so laugh on.