Ten Steps That Will Stressproof Your Body

Vernon Coleman

Most twenty-first century illnesses are caused by our attitudes, our fears, our suspicions, our responses and our prejudices. Our minds can make us ill.

The way we respond to pressure, worry, anxiety and stress will determine the condition of every organ in our bodies. Our minds determine what diseases we develop and how long we live.

But although our minds can kill us they can also cure and protect us.

By learning to control our emotions and our responses we can ensure that our minds work for us and not against us. By using the power of our minds in a practical and positive way we can stressproof our bodies.

The ten `mindpower' steps that follow (taken from my book Mindpower) are designed to show you how to use your mind to maintain good health.

1. Build up your self-confidence
If you lack self-confidence then you will constantly be pushing yourself harder and harder. Because you feel inadequate you will be exceptionally susceptible to the demands and expectations of others. You will be particularly likely to develop stress related disorders. In order to counteract your lack of confidence you need to have more faith in your own abilities. Sit yourself sown with a piece of paper and a pencil and write down all the good things you can think of to say about yourself. Write an advertisement for yourself. Pretend that you are a copywriter with the job of selling yourself to a group of potential `buyers'. List all your good points and exaggerate your advantages. Ignore your weaknesses - you undoubtedly already know what they are.

2. Put more laughter into your life
Just how laughter and humour can have such a positive effect on the human body is still something of a mystery. But it does improve respiration, tone-up the circulatory system, lower the blood pressure and increase the supply of internal healing hormones. There are several things that you can do to add more laughter to your life. First, try and spend as much time as possible with cheerful people. Second, keep a supply of your favourite funny books and films close to you. Third, don't be shy or embarrassed about having `fun'.

3. Learn to assert yourself
Evidence shows that people who allow themselves to be pushed around suffer far more from stress and pressure than more assertive individuals. You don't have to be aggressive, rude or unpleasant. You simply have to be more aware of your own needs and wishes and more prepared to stand your ground. Learn to stand up for yourself. Learn to say `no' when you really don't want to do something. You'll find that you feel more comfortable and suffer far less from stress. Surprisingly, you'll also find that other people treat you with more respect and consideration.

4. Deal with boredom
We tend to think of stress and pressure as being caused by too much activity. But inactivity and boredom can be just as great a cause of stress. If you feel that your life is too dull then take up a pastime or hobby which you find rewarding. Do something that you can become really good at and something that you can take pride in. Start evening classes at a local college. And be prepared to take risks occasionally - even if it means failing occasionally.

5. Put purpose into your life
We all need purpose in our lives. We need something to hope for, something to fight for and something to look forward to. Without purpose and meaning your life will be hollow and unrewarding. Purpose and ambition will enable you to live through the worst of life's crises. Begin putting purpose into your life by making a list of all the goals and ambitions you had when you were a teenager. Try to think back and remember what hopes and aspirations fired your imagination at that age. Then take a look through your list to see just how many of those dreams and ambitions still excite you. You'll probably realise that a number of your old dreams are still within reach.

6. Learn to relax your mind
Slumping down in front of the TV set won't necessarily relax your mind. The day's problems and worries may still be rushing through your mind. To relax properly you need to learn to daydream. You have to allow your imagination to dominate your thinking and to take over your body. Find somewhere comfortable. Lock the door, lie down and make yourself comfortable. Take big, deep breaths and try to conjure up some particularly restful scene from your past. Imagine that you are on a beach, for example. Try to feel the warm sand on your back and the warm sun on your face. Hear the waves crashing on the shore in the distance. And listen to the seagulls high overhead. Gradually your body will respond to reality but to imagined reality. And your mind and body will truly relax. Once you have learned how to `daydream' properly you'll be able to use this trick wherever you are - even on a busy train or in a crowded store.

7. Sort out your priorities
If you fail to differentiate between the big problems and the little ones, and you fail to establish priorities in your life, you will suffer in a number of ways. First, the number of problems you are exposed to will prove damaging simply because there are so many of them. If you allow yourself to worry about the scratch on your car then your mind will simply add this anxiety to other, more essential worries. Unless you make a conscious decision to separate minor problems from major problems your mind will treat them all in the same way. Second, while you are worrying about minor threats you will fail to solve major problems. Getting your priorities sorted out isn't all that difficult. You must decide exactly what is important to you. Try to see things in perspective. Don't be fooled into wasting time on things that are really not important to you. Make a list of the things in your life that are causing you stress. And decide which are really worth worrying about.

8. Add love to your life
Researchers all around the world have produced evidence to show that people of all ages can benefit from sharing a warm, caring relationship. Insurance companies in America have found that if a wife kisses her husband goodbye when he goes off to work every morning he will be less likely to have a car accident on the way to the office or the factory. He will, on average, live five years longer than if she doesn't give him a morning kiss.

Try not to hide your feelings for those who are close to you. Don't be afraid to tell someone if you love them. Don't be shy about offering a kiss or a cuddle. And remember that it is important that you do not shy away when someone who is close to you approaches with a kiss, a hug or some other sign of physical affection. Don't be shy about touching people - or allowing people to touch you. And try to get rid of old-fashioned prejudices about showing affection in public.

9. Use your intuitive powers
If you tend to spend ages making relatively minor decisions - and find yourself getting into quite a state trying to decide what to wear, what to eat and so on - then give yourself a ten second limit for making your decision. You'll find this a remarkably liberating thought-exercise. Simply make up your mind to follow whatever thought first sprang into your mind. The chances are that your first, instinctive solution was probably the best one. And with fairly minor decisions like these you haven't got much to lose anyway. But you have got a lot to gain in terms of piece of mind.

10. Let your emotions go
If you are the sort of individual who bottles things up inside you then you must learn to let yourself go. If you feel sad and want to cry then cry. Researchers have shown that tears shed for emotional reasons contain different constituents to tears shed because of winds or specks of dust. Crying provides a useful physical release which can help prevent depression developing. Next time you feel really upset then let yourself go. Crying is nothing to be ashamed of. Similarly you should learn to let your anger out too. Anger is often physically, mentally, socially and economically damaging. Stored anger can produce high blood pressure and all the other symptoms of stress induced disease. Anger is often a perfectly natural and healthy response to stressful circumstances. If you feel angry then let your anger out. Complain. Tell people that you are upset.

Vernon Coleman's book How To Relax And Overcome Stress is available from bookshops and libraries everywhere. It is also available from the shop on this Web site.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2005