We’ve all heard that stress is the #1 modern-day killer. Studies have proven that it has been connected to the staggering increase in chronic disease in the past few decades.
When we are stressed our immune system is compromised, so it’s a no brainer that fighting stress could prolong our lives and place us in a better position to stave off diseases. But that’s a lot easier said than done. So how do we reduce our stress levels?
Fear And Stress Go Hand-in-Hand
Stress is generally caused by two factors: physical exertion and fear.
When you are afraid your body starts to pump stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, through your body, which interferes with your brain function.
When we feel scared or fearful we go into survival mode. Often our response isn’t logical or rational. It’s a fight-or-flight moment. It’s a stressful moment. No one knows this better than author, speaker, health coach and band member Chris Wark.
Chris was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2003 at just 26 – two days before Christmas.
He had surgery, but instead of chemotherapy Chris chose nutrition and natural therapies to heal himself. Fourteen years later he is now cancer free and assisting others to implement a healthy lifestyle and diet, while also assessing their emotional wellbeing.
During a recent interview with Chris, he talked about how he took control of his health and reversed the disease with a radical transformation of diet and lifestyle.
As part of his own treatment, Chris decided he was going to eradicate fear and stress from his life. To do so, he decided the first step was to forgive every person who had ever hurt him.
He came to the realization that when we resent someone or something we are holding on to that negative feeling. It manifests. It builds up. It stresses us even further.
This is where forgiveness comes in. By letting go you have the opportunity to recover, both emotionally and physically, from the debilitating effects of long-term stress. And there are many.
Chris says most cancer patients he has met over the past 14 years, since he was diagnosed, often had a great deal of stress or a very traumatic event leading up to their diagnosis. He believes the stress of these events may have contributed to the cancer diagnosis.
And the only way to assist with reversing their effects is to forgive.
Forgive And Move On
“Most of us don’t forgive, we just move on,” he says. “But the problem with this is so many people are just carrying these little seeds of bitterness and resentment. Seeds grow into something bigger and over time any problem you don’t deal with becomes bigger and bigger. “You have to make a decision to forgive the people who have hurt you. You need to start thinking back through your life and try to remember the people who hurt you. Those are the memories we don’t want to entertain or continue to carry around.
“You need to clean out the closet and deal with them all once. Once the memories come up, deal with it and then forgive them.”
Do You Know How to Forgive?
During the interview Chris raised an amazing point, which was that many don’t know how to forgive or what it actually is.
“Most people think forgiveness is a feeling,” he says. “They will say, ‘I’ll forgive when that person apologizes.
“’I’ll forgive them when they get what they deserve or when they are sorry. I’ll forgive when I feel like it.’
“Forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice. The next level is to then go to those who you have hurt and make amends. You ask for forgiveness. Once you forgive and have been forgiven, you open your heart up. And it allows complete healing.”
During the interview Chris said by removing all resentment out of his body and learning how to forgive he was able to eradicate stress from his body, which went a long way towards helping him along his road to recovery.
Exercise Your Forgiveness Muscles
“The weight just comes off your shoulders,” Chris says. “You need to exercise your forgiveness muscles. The more you do it, the easier it comes. It’s just so healthy. Don’t let things fester and then that turns into a massive stress monster in your body.
“Cancer, or not, every person needs to do this. Forgiveness is the most powerful thing that we can do to heal ourselves.
“And the most beautiful thing…it’s free. You can’t sell forgiveness. It costs nothing.”
So next time you have the opportunity to forgive, take it. It’s the first step towards managing your stress levels and removing fear.