Personal Resources for Optimizing Health
“There is just so much stress in our lives just now, costs are up, sales are down. This has been our worst year ever. I just want to keep from stressing him anymore.”
When we are not blaming one another, we tend to blame “stress” for almost everything we feel guilty about doing. And, “stress” really does alter physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual responses to other people and to ordinary situations. How does this happen? How can we develop more control over ourselves when we are stressed, and behave more responsibly?
When we are stressed we are likely to alter our nutrition, rest, exercise, recreation, meditation, and worship patterns. Learning to control these patterns reduces the ill effects of stress and assists in our efforts to optimize our health.
Scientifically, we know that poor nutrition leaves us without normal physical resources. Stress actually increases our nutritional needs. In order to keep functioning normally under stress, we need additional, high quality nutrition.
Stress also alters our needs for mental and physical rest. Therefore, sleep, recreation, meditation, and worship continue to be high priorities when we are stressed. They should not be neglected.
Any combination of stress and poor habits–whether of nutrition, sleep, rest, recreation, meditation, or worship–compounds the risks for mental and/or physical breakdowns. Likewise, good habits compound the possibilities for personal growth and optimal health.
When the stress level is high, good habits deteriorate, and we become hyper-sensitive to the stressors or stressful situations.
Here are two websites I think are good on relaxation techniques.
Stress Inoculation techniques can be used to reduce our responses to the stressors. These responses may be anger, anxiety, shame and/or guilt. Learning the physical and mental process of Progressive Relaxation is basic to Stress Inoculation.
It is important to learn methods to relax your muscles and your mind. You may find that is enough to relieve your symptoms of stress. If not you may need to go further and learn how to use Stress Inoculation. Both Progressive Relaxation and Stress Inoculation are described in the book At Eden’s Gate:Whole Health and Well-Being. Just use the index. We’ll also explore stress in more detail later in these blogs.
Two books have been extremely helpful to me in learning to stop blaming others, acknowledging my own anger, taking responsibility for myself, and relating more satisfactorily with others. I recommend them to almost everyone. They are classics in the marriage and communications fields. They are How to Have a Successful Marriage by David and Vera Mace, published by Abingdon Press in 1977, and Straight Talk by Sherod Miller, Daniel Wackman, Elam Nunnally, and Carol Saline, Rawson Wade publishers, 1981. Both available at Amazon.com.
What I learned from the Maces is that anger is not a “sin” but a “signal” that needs attention. They helped me recognize anger in its mildest forms, ‘when the shoe pinches,’ while it is easier to handle. “Bothersome situations” should be discussed when first noticed, at the irritation level, and while both persons can handle it in a less passionate manner. It takes some practice to become relatively comfortable doing this.
The Maces teach us three alternatives for resolving conflicts–compromise, capitulation, and co-existence–with the end result of happier relationships. This little book has exercises for couples to use, but it is helpful even if you go through the exercises alone, as I did. The Maces founded the Marriage Enrichment movement which offers materials and small group experiences geared to the specific goals of the participants. See
Straight Talk helped me sort out my real goals, my motives and corresponding behavior, and then to select better ways to achieve what I wanted. My system for getting out of vicious circles is based partly on what I learned from this book.
Learning to deal with anger, setting a clear direction for ourselves and getting our motives in line with our goals, all pave the path for satisfying interpersonal and sexual relationships, less stress, and better physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
I learned that there were both physical and social “pre-dispostions” underlying my own problems. Once I began finding remedies and habitually using preventive measures for the underlying predispositions, I began to be able to handle my day to day situations in a more satisfying way. Therefore I urge you to follow as I upload sections from the next three chapters of At Eden’s Gate: Whole Health and Well-Being. Read carefully to see what physical and social predispositions and personal habits might affect your full growth and well-being.
Spiritual predispositions also entered into my problems. Some spiritual principles I had used made my problems worse. Although I believed I was spiritually “born again,” my spiritual experience had become a dry, joyless desert-like experience…similar to “The Dark Night of the Soul” described by some of the spiritual fathers of Christianity. My Bible readings, formerly a source of comfort and joy, created more guilt feelings. I could not “will” to do what I found instructions to do. I stopped reading the Bible. I stopped praying. I had learned “spiritual disciplines” of Bible Study and Prayer. I had not learned to connect with the Body, or to hear with Spiritual ears, what the Source of Power, God, the Supreme Good Spirit, would teach me. I had turned inward, centered on striving for perfection and approval. By withdrawing the comfort I previously had found, God began turning me outward.
There is not just one cause and one effect at work in optimizing mental, physical, social, and spiritual health. When problems occur, “It” is no one’s fault. “It” affects each one of us and each of us can help. Each of us is responsible to self, God, family and society–individually and all together.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:12-16 KJV