My colleague, Wendy Romano, wrote this blog that was originally posted on mycentraljersey.com. It explores how a spiritual approach brings peace and can relieve stress. Thank you Wendy!
Many of us are concerned about the effects of stress and how we can take control over stress-related conditions.
I recently watched videos that supported my inner feeling that we can find a powerful solution if we look to a spiritual basis.
The first featured Dr. Lissa Rankin (www.lissarankin.com), author of “Mind Over Medicine” and founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute. Rankin believes that when it comes to treating stress-related illness, the key lies in treating the stress, rather than medicating the resulting chronic conditions. She identified stress agents as negative thoughts, beliefs, and feelings.
She urges a return to “soul”-medicine, which she described as love, helping others, creativity, positive outlook, laughter, sincerity, communing with nature, a sense of belonging, and “tapping into Source.” It seems clear to me that these are spiritual solutions to the mental causes of stress.
Kelly McGonigal (www.kellymcgonigal.com), a health psychologist and Stanford University lecturer, goes one step further by explaining that if we think stress is harmful, it will be. For years, she told patients that stress is harmful, but studies revealed that the most harm occurred in patients who believed that stress would make them sick or could kill them. Those who didn’t weren’t affected by it.
One study she cited revealed that those who cared for and helped others had no ill effects from the stress they experienced, suggesting that caring creates resilience and an ability to endure stress without mental or physical harm.
At the end of her talk, Rankin asked, “What will your prescription be?”
The answer to this question is unique for each individual. Some find spiritual practices, such as yoga and meditation, to be effective. For others, communing with nature through running, cycling, hiking and other outdoor sports are helpful. Still, others find that nothing beats a good day of fishing. But as Dr. McGonigal pointed out, compassion and helping others gives us a sense of well-being that counteracts stress.
Several years ago I was under unbearable stress, feeling like I was in the midst of a total breakdown. I typically begin my day by studying the Bible and “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy to establish my connection to God’s constant goodness and love. I believe this is “tapping into Source,” as Rankin put it. During this stressful time, I didn’t stop there, but constantly prayed for direction, patience, courage, strength, and that my response to any situation would be filled with God’s love.
Throughout the day and before bed, I took time to affirm the good that took place that day. This “prescription” was a powerful counter agent to the negative feelings that were bombarding me. I felt strengthened every day and was able to continue my work and social activities, as well as help others without any negative health effects.
Both speakers confirmed what I had discovered – that spiritual practices, cultivated and lived in our daily lives, are a powerful prescription that helps individuals not only find a deep inner peace, but also counteracts anxiety and stress.
Wendy Romano is a Christian Scientist living in Montague. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.