The Silent Invader

The effect stress has on our health is now more widely recognised than in the past, and we are becoming aware that illness is not always confined to the physical body, but perhaps has its root cause in emotional and mental upsets.

There are examples of this all around us. The difficulties of immense competition in the work place, and problems of an aggressive and hectic lifestyle, can bring about all sorts of ailments, from migraine to total exhaustion, and sometimes acute bouts of sickness. And those under the pressure of exams will often show signs of severe anxiety or irrational fears, due to overtaxing the brain.

Without a doubt, there is a direct connection between the mind, emotions and body. These three things are linked together in some intangible way, and disruption of one can start a chain reaction which can affect all areas of our lives, if we don’t understand how this can happen.

Doctors have so little time, it is rare they can treat anything but the results of such a chain reaction. But we all have the power to make things a lot easier for ourselves and others around us.

A Broken Heart

Because we can see an injury to the body – like a broken leg or arm – the patient tends to get all our sympathy. But what about a broken heart or mind? These are injuries too, and often far more painful and long lasting than a damaged limb. Because we can’t “see” them, these injuries are often dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders, or comments like “pull yourself together” – and quite astoundingly people can even be avoided, particularly when suffering from grief.

It is said that a couple of hours talking is a more effective cure than any aspirin. Undoubtedly this is very true, for it helps the mind off-load problems, and a “listening” friend is often unknowingly taking on the job of a counsellor.

Indeed, discussion has a valuable place in easing stress, and in the present day we hear a great deal of talk about the workings of the mind. In real terms, however, it is not the “mind” that actually causes all the problems – It is the “thoughts we hang onto” that do the damage!

Tunnel of the Mind

The mind is really only a vehicle! It can be compared very easily to a long tunnel. Our thoughts are like the traffic that passes through it and out the otherside. If everything is running smoothly, we would have a continuous flow of these thoughts running through our minds but, just as a lorry can jack-knife in the middle of a tunnel causing a major pile-up, so a huge “thought” – like intense jealousy, worry or fear – can cause the same sort of traffic jam, leaving no space for other things to come through. The resulting pile-up brings chaos in the mind, which can be a frequent cause of breakdown.

Many of us suffer with these sort of difficulties – festering away over unforgivable wrongs, which we simply can’t “get out of our mind” until we either manage to solve the problem, or find someone to “rant at” about it. In a way talking to others is a method of redirecting the traffic.

So one answer perhaps is firstly to talk about our upsets as soon as they arrive, instead of bottling them up inside, and wondering why nobody understands when we attack the computer with a mallet, just because we don’t like an email!

It is true to say that thoughts don’t belong to us, anymore than traffic belongs to a tunnel. If we insist on hanging on to a stressful thought, we are at risk of causing ourselves serious problems, not only mentally or emotionally, but perhaps physically as well.

There are no quick solutions to this dilemma, and it is not always ideal to “sound” off at every little thing, but we can do a lot to prevent ourselves getting over-run by the thoughts of the “fear-mongers” of the media – who’s job, after all, is to sensationalise everything?

Perhaps the art is to concentrate on thoughts that bring us happiness, and try to “let go” of those that cause us pain, but we really do have to be able to let go and not suppress. The best way to release a problem, is to confront it immediately it appears, and refuse to allow it to have power over us by becoming larger than life. If this seems impossible at the time, then maybe we can learn to distract ourselves with other things that make us feel happy, until we can return to it refreshed.

The key to a multitude of traumas is in humour, and a really successful person is one who can laugh at themselves in the dramas of life. If we start each day with the attitude that there is no such thought as “can’t” and, in the words of John Lennon, “there are no problems, only solutions”, we have taken the first step to clear “stress” from the tunnel, and opened the way for “solutions” to come.