It’s no secret that stress can make you sick; however, what’s surprising is that our thoughts and feelings can make us just as sick as if there were a physical injury. Have you ever noticed that when you go on vacation all your aches and pains disappear? Was it all in your head? Yes and no.
Let’s say you accidently cut yourself. The skin around the injured area would become inflamed. This is your immune system at work. Proteins called ‘pro-inflammatory cytokines’ travel through your blood to the wound. Once there, they signal other immune cells to come help with the healing process.
It’s a miraculous process for the short term, but not so much for the long term. New studies indicate that stress can cause just as much inflammation as a physical injury. Another way of putting it is that our immune system can be activated by our thoughts and feelings, so even when there is no infection or injury to the body, our ‘stinking thinking’ can make us just as sick as a physical injury.
This is bad news for a society in which stress is so pervasive. People who live under chronic stress such as caregivers of the sick or elderly and people living in poverty are more at risk than the general population. Even mild, short-term stress such as having to give a quick presentation at work or getting negative feedback from a colleague can bring on inflammation.
On the other hand, there are numerous people in highly stressful situations at work and/or home that live long healthy lives. These people seem to be unaffected by stress-related illness and let negativity roll off their backs. So, why are some of us affected so negatively by stress and others more resilient?
The newest research uses functional MRI scanning which permits tracking of the brain over time. When research participants were told they were ‘boring’ or ‘annoying’, those with increased activity in the amygdala–the ‘fight or flight’ part of the brain–also showed increased inflammation. So it appears that people who respond to stressful situations emotionally also have more reactive immune systems and are at risk to develop stress-related illnesses.
Great–all you have to do is change the way you think!
I know it’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s very possible to change your emotional response with a bit of practice and a little help. The alternative is that if not properly addressed, stress can alter your way of life and escalate into something more severe such as full blown panic attacks.
Panic Away Review
Since stress is such a fundamental obstruction to personal growth, I address it in other places. There is more than one way to skin a cat. I believe that since each of us is an individual, what works for one person may or may not work for another. In this instance, I want to talk about Panic Away.
While watching the video, you get the feeling that the creator, Barry McDonagh, is someone who has truly experienced high levels of stress and anxiety. McDonagh developed a technique called 21/7 which is a 21-second countdown followed by a 7-second exercise. The obvious benefit being that you can do this anywhere at any time. There are other physical and mental techniques that include visualization, affirmations, and breathing.
Since anxiety is a form of stress, I feel someone wanting to decrease their stress level could benefit from this program, as well as people dealing with panic attacks. Also, if you want to try a method that doesn’t involve drugs, this is a worthwhile option. The book also addresses anxiety medications which can be helpful, but don’t treat the root cause of the problem. The stance is not pro or con but acknowledges their role.
The only negative I found to this program is the claim that it will help everyone. I believe it will help the vast majority of people who try it, but everything is not for everybody. My advice is not to gloss over parts, neglect to follow instructions, and then say it didn’t work. Panic Away is like any other self-help program—it works if you work it. However, you are protected by an 8 week window for a full refund if it has not helped you at all which I think is very unlikely. You can check out the entire program by clicking here.