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We Are Walking Shock Absorbers

We Are Walking Shock Absorbers: image

Think of your lifestyle choices, your food and sleep habits, and everything you have control over in your environment as karma for your long term health.

We are walking shock absorbers, built to tolerate our environments, to a point.  Like the coiled springs that are our spines, handling the bumpy roads and subway rides, our immune systems are similarly resilient.  We can roll with the punches, inside and out, but at what cost over time?

Think of stress as simply a lack of ease, or dis-ease, in any aspect of your life. And your immune system as a rubber band that stretches out in response to stress.  When the rubber band is slack, your body’s automatic defense system registers a safe, calm environment.  You feel free to be creative, in thought and action.  Commonly known as homeostasis, your body idles here until another stress is registered, and the rubber band stretches out to meet the challenge.

This long accepted understanding of homeostasis has been appropriately revised in the past two decades by modern science due to a recognition that, for most of us, homeostasis is never truly static.  Each of us is constantly exposed to a variety of stressors, some more than others, through the interplay of choice and circumstance. 

We tend to overlook the stressors, some of them unhealthy) that we’re exposed to in our daily circumstances.  Sure, some stress is normal, even natural.  We wouldn't be able to physically grow up without the stress of gravity.  But, in today's world, we are encouraged to take on way too much.  And, our body's, in their brilliant design, have the capacity to “normalize” unhealthy environments.  We can get away with it for awhile, but this is done at the expense of our vitality. Vitality is not just longevity, but how alive we feel during the day.

We have evolved, like animals, plants, and the Earth really, to normalize any chronic habituation, meaning anything that becomes a part of the fabric of our lives. 

This new normal is the result of allostasis, a relatively young concept in modern medicine that acknowledges the amazing ability of the body to adapt and move forward.   The downside for your well-being is that the rubber band of your immune system loses some of its stretch in order to tolerate a new normal.  Which leaves it with less flexibility for dealing with additional stress.  The more this rubber band is stretched out, the less flexible it becomes, until a breaking point is reached and it snaps.  And then an autoimmune condition or a cancer or a dis-ease of sometime will become readily apparent. 

We live in an anxious world.  And when we're feeling anxious, it's impossible to feel joy.  Anxiety and depression are common emotional responses to stress, but the causes can be obvious or as subtle as the air we breathe, as tasteless as much of the “food” in our supermarkets, and as imperceptible as the steady erosion of an untended personal relationship.  Or the gradual erosion of personal freedoms, if we think in terms of our relationship with democracy.

Consider chemical stress in the form of air pollution, often undetectable with the human senses, or food additives, present in the majority of store bought goods.  Or the radiation stress we tolerate through the use of cell phones and proximity to power lines and radio towers of all kinds.  Or the physical stress of sitting for much of the day, looking at screens of all sizes that strain our eyes and further ensconce us in virtual reality worlds devoid of human interaction.  Or the stress of not having enough money to afford food and rent, which are a part of what I call the ABC's of Survival (I'll publish a blog about this soon!)

What's stressing you out?  Book an appointment with me and explore the metaphor of your dis-ease.  Whatever your pain or "condition", there is meaning to it.  And the sooner we work with this meaning, the sooner and more completely we can heal.