The last post I wrote about mastery…taking the baby steps to start going where you want to go, but also realizing that there really is no end. It's infinite. Mastering aging is an infinite process. When I say master aging, I mean living a quality, healthy life until the day I die. I don't want to spend the last years of my life in a nursing home being fed and changed like a baby. I want my brain to be functioning and my body to be mobile and all my organs doing what they were designed by God to do.
There are so many factors when it comes to the aging process. If there weren't, then we would all die at the same age. Our genetics, the environment we live in, the lifestyle habits we partake in. Lifestyle habits like nutrition we eat, exercise we do (or don't do), smoking, drugs or alcohol, stress in our lives, etc.
I have become sort of a sponge when it comes to researching and learning about this process. It interests me because of the way I was feeling at the age of 44, and how I feel today at 50. It interests me because I've seen too many people die unnecessary deaths from preventable diseases…the number one being cancer. Watching people suffer from lifestyle diseases preventing them to live a quality of life that they could have lived if they were introduced to this information. I was suffering and thought it was just a part of my aging process. I had no idea there was something I could actually do to change it…besides that, I had tried and nothing worked, so I racked it up to the aging process. Thinking, "I guess that there is nothing I can do to stop this."
There are so many factors involved, but in this post, I would like to address one of the common causes of 95% of the diseases today…and that is stress. Due to the overwhelming information on stress…I will post this in 3 different posts.
We all have stress. Some have more than others. Others have the ability to handle it better. My personality has the tendency to not handle it well :-) Put me in a stressful situation and I snap! But over the last 6 years, I feel like I'm getting better at it.
There is a non-profit organization called "The Truth About Cancer" that I have been introduced and studied and use as a reference. This organization was founded by Ty Bollinger who has lost 7 close family members to cancer. He's tired of it and he's in search of a cure…a real cure. He partners with other cancer research non-profits that truly are trying to find the cure. Why do I say "truly trying to find a cure?" The well-known cancer non-profit organizations are a part of a 13 Trillion dollar industry. If we find a true cure, there sure would be a lot of money and jobs lost. So their mission is to find new drug protocols. 80% of the funds go to pay for the administrative costs and 20% to drug research. The other non-profits use their money for cures to cancer…cancer is preventable. That's the best way to handle it, but if you were diagnosed with cancer, there are other ways documented that are kept from the public. So there is your introduction to Ty's organization I have researched.
So let's get back to stress. Stress is a good thing as long as it's acute stress. It might have been one of those days where you're exhausted and may even have a headache, elevate your blood pressure, etc., but the next morning, you wake up and everything seems back to normal. Acute stress is a temporary state that we deal with in life's little inconveniences. It's common and rational adults can usually handle it responsibly. You deal with it and go on about your day.
But, there is a different stress that we deal with nowadays. Financial stress with costs getting out of control and more than likely struggling with the bills. In Ty's article, "Stress is cancer-causing - Here's how to stop it" he comments that two-thirds of the U.S. population admits that they are sleep-deprived, getting less than six hours of sleep every night. Jobs are hard to find so employees stay with companies that treat them poorly. It's working the same with friendships and relationships.
If you are stressed for long periods of time, it can make you sick. This kind of stress that I'm talking about is called chronic stress. People that are living in a constant state of stress for years, even decades and it will gradually destroy the body. Ty states that "Long-term stress has been scientifically linked to higher incidents of autoimmune disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer."
In the U.S., we don't get much sleep, always on the go, multi-tasking and not taking much time off for ourselves. Here is the data that Ty shares from his references:
- The majority of the US citizens reported that they experience moderate to high stress.
- More than 43% of the population manifests physical symptoms due to their stress.
- Illnesses related to stress cost the US more than $300 billion annually. One in five workers called in sick due to stress, but lied to their employer about the reason.
- Approximately 44% of people report a steady increase in stress over the prior 5-year span.
- Stress causes difficulty sleeping in 48% of people.
- Emotional eating due to stress - turning to high sugar or high fat "comfort" foods - affects 39% of US citizens
- 75-90% of all visits to a doctor's office can be traced back to stress.
This data is unbelievable, yet believable! Over time, Ty states that stress can manifest physically, emotionally, behaviorally and socially. Remaining in a stressful state releases chemicals that gradually break down your cells.
So let's talk about understanding stress. As I mentioned earlier, our bodies are meant to have stress. In the very beginning when man had to hunt for their food and sometimes might encounter an animal that instead makes them their prey, those outside influences caused a "flight or fight" response. Your body instantly produces the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Your body either 1) is getting ready to fight or 2) take flight. They would find they were faster and stronger to deal with the situation at hand due to the hormones being released. This stress response is meant to keep you in safe situations or at least get you out of them.
Chronic stress, on the other hand, never stops and will gradually cause damage to your immune system. Your body wasn't meant to stay in the "fight or flight" mode all the time. In our developed, fast-paced world, it would seem though, that this is the case for a lot of people. It can take a toll on us emotionally, but also over time, physically.
Stay tuned for the next post next week that will share symptoms of chronic stress and the 7 physiological results of chronic stress.