Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stress and Your Body

A few months ago I wrote about underlying stress. This is sort of a part 2 of that post. I have had a stressful few years. I know they could have been worse, but they are what they are. Underlying stress of things that are in the future affect your body a great deal more than we may realize. The same is true for obvious stress.

I feel like I might be an expert on how stress affects the body, but I'm sure there are others who know better. I have an issue with my stomach that is believed to mess with the nerves in that area making it especially sensitive. I had my first issue with this right after I brought home my first son from the hospital. He was born early, we brought him home on an apnea monitor because they wanted to be sure his breathing/heart would not go down too far. It was stressful to go through this with a first child. I think the problem started during the pregnancy, but the pain did not begin until after. We later learned that the chlorine in water was a major irritant of the problem, so giving up chlorinated water took away the problem for a while.

I don't remember having another issue with this until I was first pregnant for our second son, so obviously pregnancy is another trigger of this issue in some cases. It was a stressful pregnancy at different times, but thankfully I did not deal too much with this issue even after Trenton was born. I think I was handling stress better at the time, and that is a good thing, since his birth and after very difficult.

This past year was the most stressful year of my life. We were in a new church as a pastor/pastor's wife, our son suddenly had an extra strange illness which we later learned was cyclic vomiting syndrome. It's a very stressful illness, because you have the underlying stress of knowing it comes every month around the same time. Thankfully, the Lord resolved it.  I had another episode after a very stressful time this past January, and then have been going through it again since our move, lack of insurance for the boys, and husband being away at a new summer job. I think I let the combination of things let me become too anxious at too many times.

I say all of this to show what stress does to me. The other day I was sitting relaxing and happened to start thinking about something in the future that was unknown or that I had to do. I was gripped with stomach pain. Our thoughts are so connected to our bodies. Yes, there are other triggers for problems like this, but for me stress is a major one.

So what can I do about this? It almost seems involuntary, but is it really? I can control my thoughts. I can change my attitude. This is a major help when you have stress-triggered illnesses. I am not unfit to live life because of this illness. I know it will run it's course, and I'll feel better, and oddly enough stress will not affect me in the same way once it does.

I don't know why I go through this. Maybe it is so that I remember that in my weakness, God is strong. Maybe it is to point out that I am being too anxious. The pain is a definite reminder.

If you know that stress is making you sick, there may be a medical problem, but it may be a heart problem along with it. Keep tabs on your thoughts, and you may soon find one of the roots of your pain.

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