Are you run ragged? Do you never have a minute? Are you always on high alert? Do you feel burnt out most of the time? Do you overreact? Are you always angry? If you are answering ‘No’ to these questions, then you are the exception rather than the rule. If you answered ‘yes’, then it’s time for an intervention. Your body is sending you a distress flare, listen to it; it is telling you in no uncertain terms that you have lost control of your life and you are not living correctly. Shut it down or your body will do it for you.

I am certain that dealing with stress and disharmony is a key factor in recovering myself from Parkinson’s. For years I didn’t look after my nervous system; my body was bombarded with the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, and my immune system was left exhausted. My body and brain were in chaos; and so here I am, living with a chronic illness. No amount of money, no job, no clean house and no to-do list is worth your health. Read that again!

Stress is just accepted as part of everyday living, it seems to be acceptable to work people to the point of burn out, and we feel under pressure to be all things to all people. We use caffeine to function and alcohol to relax, we crave sugar, we are sleep deprived and snappy, we have no alone time, we have palpitations, we are exhausted and full of bitterness and resentment.  It’s time to start making choices that are a right for our health and not those choices that are easier; these issues will not go away until they have taught us what we need to know.

If you continue to live a lifestyle that is burning you out, then it is likely that you are creating a series of health problems for yourself; stress is linked to so many conditions; a few of which include cancer, heart problems, MS, arthritis, alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, depression and obesity. Our bodies are not designed to be under constant stress, if we don’t give them a chance to recover, then they quite simply will not do so. Our health is very often a result of choices that we have made along the way, it’s time to stop and reflect on the choices that we are making.

It is also important to reflect on whether or not we cause others to be stressed. Are you a pushy parent? Are you an aggressive manager? Do you create conflict regularly? Do you bring negative or positive energy into people’s lives? If so, stop!

Equally, are you someone who needs to try to be more resilient and get your stressors into perspective? Are you a perfectionist? Do you compare yourself to others? Are you competitive? If so, stop!

So, what can you do? I would advise making a list of your causes of stress; list those that you can address and those that you can’t. Take responsibility for changing what you can, then decide to change your reaction to what you cannot eradicate from your life; as the saying goes, ‘It’s not the load that weighs you down but how you carry it’. Have ‘me-time’ every day, stop everything and be selfish, exercise, eat well, sleep, cut down alcohol and caffeine, meditate, laugh, dance, sing, surround yourself with positive people, do things that you love, and let go of all guilt! Basically, give your body time to rest and recover.

Doing all of these things will make your life happier. You will be a better partner, parent, friend and employee, but most importantly, these changes may save your life. It’s time to take responsibility for your health, take accountability and be your own health advocate and physician. You are not a passive victim in your life, you need to connect to the messages that your body is giving to you.

We can all learn wonderful lessons from those who have health problems; I beg you to address your stress levels now before you don’t have that choice. Trust me, your body, mind and soul will thank you for it …  

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