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Each month a new inspirational, spiritual, or educational article by Alice McCall is posted.
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         September 2008

Under pressure? Identify what you can control. - by Jennifer Rich

Worrying to death is no longer just a catchy expression. Stability has become a luxury to many as jobs and the economy have taken a hit this year. With more challenges in life, the stress factor has become a major concern as evidence continues to mount that people are not taking care of themselves.

Scope of the problem
The American Heart Association released a report in January saying that coronary heart disease and stroke are both down by about 25 percent each since 1999. This is good news, but they still remain the No. 1 and No. 3 killers in America today.

One of the most preventable contributing risk factors is stress. It is not known if stress alone is responsible for cardiovascular disorders, but health professionals agree that stress plays a key role.

"Stress is directly related to increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and causes the fight-or-flight response," said Tammy Butler, a registered nurse at Sacred Heart's Cardiac Rehabilitation Center.

This has been a rocky year, with soaring gas prices, a faltering housing market, the impending presidential election, unstable jobs and many other factors that contribute to the recession. While it's too early in the year to back up the hard times with health statistics, it is safe to assume that the population in general has been more stressed.

"It's really going to start surfacing around the holidays," Butler said. "I suspect that you will see more heart attacks and a lot more alcohol intake."

Common coping mechanisms for stress - overconsumption of food, alcohol and caffeine, compulsive spending and smoking - all sabotage physical health and provide no long-term correction of a stressful situation.

How it got so bad
Since World War II, the modern conveniences that have come along to "make life easier" have also boosted the expectations for productivity. Humans have been able to achieve more in their day, but the difference is that humans cannot realistically perform up to par with technology.

The expectations that people and society now carry have caused people to neglect themselves and adopt harmful behaviors.

These lifestyle blunders have in part evolved into the top causes of death. Many have had enough and are now implementing positive changes into their lives. "You are no good to anyone and anything else unless you are good to yourself," Butler said.

How we can turn it around
On one positive note, Butler said that smoking is on the decline in Florida. With the price of a pack of cigarettes about the same as a gallon of gas, it's not surprising. "Education is one of the best ways to help people ward off these diseases," she said.

In an effort to do that, people are using the tools at the cardiac rehab facility to live healthier and are turning to more unconventional ways to learn stress management skills.

Alice McCall, a Navarre-based professional energy healer and energy counselor holding a bachelor's of science in psychology, helps her clients with health, emotional, career, relationship and spiritual issues. She also counsels people on stress.

"If you're stressed out, you just don't function well," McCall said. "You make bad decisions and you tend to be more accident prone."

McCall attributes people becoming overwhelmed to lacking time, support, resources and motivation to get through situations.

"It's a perception issue," she said, explaining that when people are bombarded with obligation, the feeling of being overwhelmed is what they choose to focus on. "I want people to start realizing that they have a choice and don't have to hold on to the perception that what they are dealing with is not manageable," McCall said. To do this, she said that people must shift the way that they think. When confronted with situations that seem out of one's control, she recommends the following:

Do not hold on to a worry or fear. The emotions are unproductive and a waste of energy.
Slow it down and take control of what stresses you. Less is best.
Be proactive by incorporating things in life that alleviate stress. Do one thing every day to take care of yourself. Her favorite is meditation.
Shift the way you think right away by taking two minutes to breathe deeply from your lower stomach and repeat a calming phrase to yourself, like "calm, calm, calm" or "heal, heal, heal." "Breath is powerful," she said.

Mentally, McCall said that people can benefit greatly from making an appointment with themselves every day to do some internal inventory on what is causing them angst, looking for patterns and taking responsibility for their circumstances.

Physically, Butler said that the human body was meant to be in motion. People should make a commitment to walk, clear their minds and stop being inside of a building and in front of a screen. They should also take control of their body's nourishment.

"You may not be able to change your genetic material, but what we put in our mouths and how we conduct ourselves, our happiness," Butler said. "We have some say over these things."

The underlying message in managing stress is taking control of the situations that you can and letting go of ones that you cannot.
"This form that we were given is a gift and if you abuse it, you lose it," Butler said.

Contact Alice to learn how she can help you master this topic - or transform other health, emotion, and spiritual issues.  Free consultations are offered to all new clients to learn how Alice's work is directly tailored to address your areas of concern. Don't wait - step onto your Healing Path today!

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