There is a lot of talk about stress these days, and with good reason. Stress not only affects us on a physical level but also on an emotional, cellular level.
In fact, which of these types of stress are impacting you right now? Stresses like:
• work stress,
• financial worries
• relationship problems,
• caregiving of a child or aging parent,
• self-care, or
• health issues.
Stress and Cellular Memory
And stress and our habits go hand-in-hand. So, when your body has been repeatedly exposed to stress and, maybe even to the same event (stuck in traffic, trying to catch up on deadlines, or being the caregiver), it leaves an imprint on you.
It is these repetitive experiences that your body remembers on a cellular level. You can think of cellular memory like a database where our memories are stored within our organs and not only in our brain. Everything that we experienced has been recorded in the cells our body.
During these stressful events, your body remembers what you were thinking and feeling at that time, which brings those thoughts and feelings to a conscious level. Our brain stores our conscious and unconscious patterns of unhealthy habits or behaviors are and we repeat the same “program” over and over again.
How To Change Unhealthy Patterns
If you react to stress by eating your emotions away, or using alcohol or cigarettes, then this is an unhealthy pattern that your body and mind remembered from the first time.
So, what can you do to change these “old programs” and keep your stress down? Just like a computer, you need a reboot. You need to clear out the bad programs and start fresh with new mind and body programming.
Here is a tip that I teach in my practice to challenge people’s thoughts on how they react to stress.
When you are in a circumstance that is causing you stress and begin to feel anxious, sad, or frustrated, ask yourself, “What am I thinking that is causing me to feel this way?”
When you bring awareness to your thought patterns, you will not only gain insights into your thought patterns, but also take responsibility for whether you to choose to continue thinking in a way that is counterproductive to your goals.
Most of us are on autopilot when it comes to our thoughts and we don’t stop and ask ourselves, “Why am I thinking that?” When you take control and responsibility of your thought patterns, you are able to change the reaction to those feelings. You will be able to stop eating your emotions away, drinking, or smoking and then seeing results from those changes.
Should I Be Stressed Out About Stress?
But before we go too far, let me stress something about stress (no pun intended). There is also an upside to stress. It pushes out our comfort zone and challenges us to expand our world.
For example, you have always wanted to go skydiving and you finally book the experience. A week before the event, thoughts creep into your mind and say, “No I don’t think I should do that, something bad can happen.”
Your heart starts racing and your hands get sweaty. This is a fight or flight response that has been with us since the caveman days to protect us against danger. By challenging these thoughts you are able to think on a logical level and remind yourself, “I am prepared for this jump.” Not to mention, your desire to do the jump is stronger than your fear and it will help you push through your apprehension.
Stress, as I stated, is more than a physical reaction. It also affects our emotions, and our bodies remember these events. Though your unhealthy patterns may seem to reduce your stress, they comes with a price. The results can be weight gain, or excessive drinking or smoking, because our “old programming” is running the show.
You can shift away from autopilot, and start changing your programming with a new healthy body and mindset. These changes will let you live a healthier and less stressful life.