Why Does Stress Make Us Ill? Part Two

I thought I’d do a couple of posts writing about personal anecdotes of ill health in myself, the relation to some form of stress and how we can help the healing process in ourselves. This first post is about a very obvious link to strain, stress and physical distress, the next post will be about a more mystical experience where an infection led to a breakthrough or enlightenment type experience.

For many years now I’ve had an occasionally recurring strain in, I think, my esophagus, I say “think” because it’s not something I’ve ever bothered getting checked out! It started in my twenties when I attended a party that I experienced as a mixture of social and physical discomfort. I’d gone with a friend to a cyclist club gathering, in those days this was a pretty nerdy event (these days sports seems to have caught up with the American thing of rockstar status. It was certainly not like that when I was at school in the 70’s and 80’s…). So I was at this party with a group of extremely socially awkward people and as I was shy too conversation was a little akin to pulling teeth! Add to that I was wearing what in the eighties was called a pencil skirt – long and tight – and heels, sitting uncomfortably on the floor drinking some weird, very sweet and bubbly alcoholic concoction (I prefered beer). After an hour of this all these factors combined in a strange, tight sensation below my throat, difficulty swallowing and breathing, a feeling in my mouth like I was going to be sick but my stomach felt fine. It took hours for it to settle down.

Over the next three decades this only happened to me a handful of times more but all memorable and all with this double strain of a physical discomfort combined with emotional strain. Each time seemed to feel worse and it’s only in recent years as I’ve dealt with some of the factors such as a mild perfume allergy, managing to stay calm during discord at social gatherings and a few other factors that the severity of the occurrence seems to have almost gone.

However, what it has left me with is a slight weakness in – I think – the esophagus. As mentioned I haven’t had any big recurrences of this but a lot of small ones recently, these happened when I started recording audios. This was because of the combination of nervousness about recording something and hearing my own voice – I love leading a group through meditation but talking to a computer just feels weird. The physical strain is that I don’t yet have a microphone (it’s on it’s way) so in order to get the sound to be even it’s quite uncomfortable positioning and propping up the laptop (and yes I could use my phone but it didn’t work out well technically). It’s a lot better now, very, very mild and this is partly because I’ve gotten used to doing this but mainly because I just sat and processed all the emotional discomfort then made an effort to rectify the physical discomfort as much as possible.

I’m relating this in order to illustrate the effect relatively small things can have on our well-being and also how stress points can build up in the body and become activated whenever we experience distress or discomfort. A few years ago I was talking to someone who had developed a severely debilitating problem with her esophagus and I wish I’d asked her more questions about it such as what was happening prior to the problem, what stresses or upsets had occurred in her life, what happened prior to each flare up? These are the kinds of questions we can ask whenever we experience ill health; the process of getting very quiet within ourselves and asking questions can, through the insights gained and the release of any emotion that comes up, illuminate a lot and lead to not just physical healing but psychological healing as well. Everything is connected!

If anyone reading this post has experienced ill health that they instinctively know was connected to an emotional or stress event I’d really love to hear about that, perhaps in the comments if you wish to share?

For more on this topic and for more ways of addressing our health – mental, physical and emotional – please have a look at the book, “Why Does Stress Make Us Ill?”. Link below.

Published by Catherine Strang

I have been passionate about health and well-being since my teenage years when a health problem prompted me to use diet to regain my strength. By the end of the 80's I was working as a chef in a Rudolf Steiner based vegetarian cafe in Edinburgh and this led me (through working with some very alternatives types!) to pursue a career as a massage therapist and healer, which I began in 1990. Since then I have trained in many different forms of therapy, including Hypnotherapy, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), EmoTrance (a form of deeply mindful emotional processing). I retired completely from bodywork in 2017 and at present only occasionally work as a 1:1 therapist. My focus now is teaching and I have been doing this since 1991 when I taught Aromatherapy and massage courses for the Edinburgh Council Adult Education Programme, by the time I finished these courses in 2000 I had also taught aromatherapy/massage sessions across Edinburgh in Community Centers, Health Projects and a variety of other non profit organisations. By this time however I was beginning to develop Stress Management and later Meditation and personal development courses/sessions and was including corporate settings as well as private teaching events. The list of places I have taught in is extensive and over the past three decades I've no doubt forgotten quite a few! I am dedicated to personal development, health and meditation and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to each session. I am well aware of the struggles, often hidden from work colleagues, that many go through during the course of their life and endeavor always to be kind, non-intrusive and in a work setting discreet.

One thought on “Why Does Stress Make Us Ill? Part Two

  1. Yet another commonsense, non-academic approach to a subject that afflicts so many lives, penned by a highly experienced, consummate professional.

    Catherine Strang’s new book is a must-read.


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