By Ox Drover
Since I have been in the medical profession for many years as a Registered Nurse Practitioner (now retired) I have been interested in the reactions our bodies and our minds have from stress.
Stress is a contributing factor to poor health and decreased immune response. Increases in the frequency of infection for individuals with a high level of stressful events in their lives have been well researched by many researchers. It is also well proven that our thinking and ideal mental responses are also diminished by high levels of stress.
Stress is not just the negative things that happen to us, but according to researchers Holmes and Rahe, stress is the result of “life events.”
I have been aware of this and have “charted” my high stress levels throughout most of my adult life using the “Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale” of “life events.”
Holmes and Rahe studied the effects of stress on humans (both positive stress/change and negative stress/change) and came up with a way to measure the intensity of stress. A score at or above 300 on their scale within a three-year period gave a person a higher than average chance of having illness or an accident happen to them. (Which of course adds even more stress to the person.)
The “take home lesson” from their scale of intensity of stress is that when life is throwing us stressful situations we cannot control, we need to keep the level of changes we voluntarily make at a minimum.
Since my life seems to have been a continual cycle of huge stresses, many of which have not been under my control, I have consciously tried to keep the voluntary contributions to this stress level at a minimum. For years, though, I was actually not doing a very good job, as I was still engaging in interactions with the psychopaths and their dupes. Recently, though, after going NC with the Ps and their dupes, I thought I was doing a pretty good job here lately, and I actually was.
Yesterday, however, after several peaceful, low stress months, I encountered my mother as my son and I were coming out of a checkout line in a store. There was a short “scene” in which I was “triggered” and angered. Wounds were ripped open. I was highly and instantly stressed! Shot full of adrenaline.
I came home, had a pity party, and ranted some and went to sleep. When I woke up this morning, I felt much better emotionally, and was back on a “level road.” Physically, though, I felt wrung out, like I had dug ditches with a shovel all day yesterday and was still so residually tired, even after a good night’s sleep, that I was just needing a day of rest.
This feeling lead me to an “ah ha” moment, when I realized that I hadn’t had a big adrenaline rush in quite some time. I had been living in a peaceful and pretty calm state of mind, fear was low, and my body had not been having to deal with high stress levels either internally or externally.
Though I am entirely convinced that it will take several more years of consistent peace, low anxiety, and little change, for me to completely recover from the effects of the high stress levels for such long periods of time, I do realize I have come a long ways in living a life of peace and calm.
When I was having adrenaline rushes almost on a daily, or even hourly, basis during the “crisis” mode, never coming down from that adrenaline rush, I didn’t know how it felt when I did come down. I saw the way I felt (pretty bad) as “normal.” (Because it was the “usual” state.)
Now that I have lived in peaceful circumstances long enough that I haven’t been under a continual surge of stress hormones for a while (literally enough of them to make my body shape change), I can easily tell what I feel physically and mentally today is a response to what happened yesterday.
My body shuttled the blood to my muscles (in a fight or flight scenario) and used up all the glucose stored in my liver to feed them. So I really AM tired, not just “feeling” tired. So, today I rest, exercise a bit, but not too much, and recover my physical normalcy. I will continue to try to keep changes of any kind at a minimum, and not make any voluntary significant changes in my life. I will keep my environment as calm and peaceful as I possibly can.
The damage done to my immune system and to my body and psyche from years of continual bombardment from stress hormones will take years to resolve (if it ever does completely resolve), but it is important that I do my part to keep stressors at a low level. No Contact is the biggest tool in my “tool belt” to keep stress at a lower level. Avoiding any situations and persons that irritate me or add to my stress level is another good tool.
Doing positive things for myself, pampering myself, are more great tools in my belt. Being aware that I need to rest physically (I acknowledge that I am somewhat a workaholic) is also very important. My dishes are still in the sink—the world has not come to an end! I’ll do them when I feel like doing them—today, tomorrow, who cares?
Today I will focus in the good things in my life—the love of my sons, and the positive aspects of my world.