Write Your Stress Away
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Welcome to “Healing From Within.” I am your host Sheryl Glick Reiki Master Energy Healer and Medium and author of the third book completing the trilogy A New Life Awaits Spirit Guided Messages to Support Global Awakening shares a way to imagine past economics politics social or religious issues healthy happy people working to understand life and beyond, through science and metaphysics using the laws of energy. I am delighted to welcome Diane Hartingh Price who with Susan McCullum co-authored Write Your Stress Away, an outstanding book offering readers mindful exercises that not only reduce stress and heal illness, but create a lifestyle that is ultimately meaningful.
Diane when asked to think back to her childhood and remember a person place or event that might have signaled to her or those around them the lifestyle and interests she might pursue in adulthood readily suggests that she always loved to write and her father encouraged her in that way, As a young mother she met her friend Susan who like her appreciated the art of writing and sharing her emotions in a way that helped her reduce stress and become aware of the many wonderful ways to share feelings through writing.
Diane and Susan tell us how they met and decided to write Write Your Stress Away and how writing helped them both address serious health issues faced early on? Our story begins with our friendship for a shared passion for writing health and well being. Fast forward twenty years. Within the same year, we were each diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, Sue with Type 1 diabetes and Diane with breast cancer. In that moment life changed drastically for both of us. Our paths took us in different directions, we both relied on writing to get through the ups and downs of life, including the stress associated with facing acute and chronic illnesses. When we finally shared our experiences, we were struck by how writing had been our lifeline on each of our healing journeys.
Writing had provided clarity, helped us with our decision making, reinforced what mattered most, and offered a release valve when we become emotionally overwhelmed. As we both recognized the powerful healing tool that writing provides we were inspired to create and integrate an approach we call WRITE TO BE WELL. In Diane’s case writing things down became a way of life at a young age. Intuitively journal writing became a mainstay for me in navigating the emotional waters of my life while facing the inevitable challenges as well as being diagnosed with cancer over 20 years ago. Writing helped me uncover the emotions that were driving my feeling like a victim and helped me to move on to self-advocate partnering with care providers. By writing what mattered most my values and powerful self-affirmation emerged being an inspiration to live life fully. Diane decided to share the gift of writing with those in her professional life During her years as a VP in a large consulting firm she met leaders of many organizations. They were executives who paid a big price with their health from the stress they experienced every day. Many adopted writing to support themselves in making personal as well as professional decisions and changes. After leaving the corporate world my life’s work focuses on writing, integrative health coaching, community service and sharing the integrated writing method.
Diane and co-author Sue are aware of the proof from research for this book that stress causes illness and writing improves health. Put the two together and use writing as a valuable tool to achieve and maintain optimal health and manage stress.
Around the time Sue was diagnosed with diabetes she took classes to become a facilitator in legacy, creative and memoir writing. She also achieved a degree in clinical counseling and began facilitating writing groups for her clients.
Sue also worked with women living in Malawi Africa and witnessed the power of writing to touch deep places within these women, many of whom had suffered from traumatic events. This experience showed me that writing our life stories, the painful ones as well as the joyful ones, is universally healing in any language. Diabetes is an unrelenting inconvenient disease that is with Sue 24/7 but writing about it has helped her shift her perspective so she can live side by side with diabetes without having it ruin my life.
The affirmation Sue lives with daily is “ I am a healthy vibrant woman living successfully with diabetes.” Sheryl says that she often has coincidences or synchronicity with her amazing guests and like Sue wakes up every morning and says “I am in a fit and healthy body and so happy to go out into the world and have new experiences with wonderful people.”
Also Sheryl’s son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 22 years old and in her new book A New Life Awaits: Spirit Guided Insights to Support Global Awakening Gregg shares in written form his journey and challenges and indeed gives a voice of hope and vision to those who will read it. It helped him to write it and others to read it of that Sheryl is sure. A New Life Awaits shares stories of how to deal with the many social, political, economic , religious and health issues of these modern times and to know life in its eternal dance of energy and love.
And also like Sue, Sheryl has seven grandchildren she loves spending time with.
We talk about optimal health and ways to work towards that end. Optimal health is not a quick fix: it is a lifelong process of choices to support your health and well being both in mind, body and spirit. Of course, there will be stumbling blocks and poor choices along the way: yet with a vision based on your values you can manage health challenges even when you slip up now and then. Are you stressed at work, overwhelmed with balancing family and job responsibilities, angry at your health diagnosis or even grieving the good health you once had. Do you ask , “Why me?” Or, you may be feeling shame or guilt about the poor health choices you’ve made in the past. Whatever, the emotions are they might be interfering with your ability to take action.
Emotions play a role in your health decisions. What might be values and priorities that help in making good decisions?
Sheryl says that in almost every situation we encounter moving from a negative or lower vibrational energy or through to what we desire which is a higher level of joy, happiness and peace is the normal state of being. So fearful emotions attack the brain and body like the primitive response of fight or flight, secreting hormones to give us the ability to survive attacks of any kind and while necessary over time if this state is not moderated it can cause health issues.. So it is important to feel, evaluate and utilize the emotions in ways that serve our needs. For example fear when you have to move away from a snake or bear is a valuable tool, but fear that is self-imposed by assuming values of the outside world, instead of trusting your own instincts for what is good for you, will affect your thoughts and physical body negatively. We must find what our needs are and work to fulfill our own goals.
We can all agree that stress can do havoc to our health and our choices. Let’s find out about the types of stress and how stress impacts your mind, body and spirit for better or worse. While the stress response or release of stress hormones to aid in our survival in challenging dangerous physical threats to our safety and is necessary for survival today due to the many challenges of a modern lifestyle, the body is constantly in a state of stress not merely when there are physical threats to our safety. Physically this results in two processes. The first set of stress hormones addresses short term responses causing increased heart and breathing rates, reduced activity in the stomach, reduced saliva production, dry mouth dilated pupils, and glucose released into the bloodstream. The second process addresses the sustained stress reaction. It causes the liver to release stored glucose to maintain a ready supply of fuel for the body while it suppresses the immune system. The activation and effects of the long -term stress response are similar to those of the short term however maintaining a raised heart and breathing rate inhibits digestion and so on over long periods of time has negative health consequences.
Whether the threat is physical, emotional, psychological , environmental, infectious or some combination of these our body reacts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 110 million people die every year as a direct result of stress. That is seven people every two seconds. In addition, 75-90 percent of all physician office visits are reported to be for stress-related ailments and complaints. Heart disease cancer lung ailments accidents cirrhosis of the liver and suicide are reported as the sixth leading causes of death all with proven links to stress. Diabetes is noted as the seventh leading cause of death.
In 2009 Robert M. Sapolsky premised in his book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers is that the human stress response is not only to physical threats such as a bear chasing you for getting near its honey but also to perceived mental, emotional and spiritual threats. The problem is those threats don’t subside thus our bodies are in a continual state of heightened physiological tension. This creates a rich environment for lifestyle disease to prevail as our bodies don’t return to a resting state or homeostasis.
While all this talk about stress might lead you to conclude it’s all bad. It’s not. Richard Lazarus offered three basic definitions. They are eustress, neustress and distress. Eustress is good stress that is inspiring or fulfilling. It might result in a rapid heartbeat and perspiration when asking your significant other to marry and they say yes for example. In general, good stress is short term. In these situations, you tend to have a lot of control over the outcome and the stress can motivate you. At the opposite end of the spectrum is distress. This type of stress is negative and is the general connotation of stress. Neustress is neutral stress. It is something that produces neither a good nor bad response in you. Example: Recently at lunch I heard at the next table 2 people talking about their auto repair wows. It sounded like one of them had a huge mess..I had no reaction as it had no immediate effect on me. I was therefore neutral about the whole situation. However if I had experience a recent repair that was a major hassle hearing that conversation
What emotions do most people feel when thinking about changing your health behaviors? The more details and emotions revealed in their writing the better the healing response. Although some students in the expressive writing group expressed sadness after writing their stories they also reported improved moods, a more positive outlook, greater physical health and fewer visits to the student health center. Also according to studies in brain science secrets, whether driven by shame, embarrassment, or resistance to share something personal with another person, creates conflict in the brain and causes the brain to release stress hormones. If there is no emotional release of the stress the excess hormones can weaken the immune system, increase blood pressure, heighten anxiety, and create a host of other ailments. It is known that inhibition or repressing detailed thoughts and feelings about an event takes a lot of work and energy and can place people at risk for -serious diseases. Written confession, which is similar to talk therapy reduces stress and improves health and well being. Clients in counseling who self-disclose their traumas and feelings make the most progress in terms of emotional healing and understanding. The deeper the wound the longer it takes to reveal the truth. Example Sheila raped by her uncle when she was eight years old found it difficult to talk about the event due to the shame and embarrassment she felt. Her uncle had threatened her to tell no one. She suffered the repercussions of fear and anxiety, sure signs of stress,
Sheryl says Why is there so much abuse happening to so many children??
There are many benefits of writing reported by professional and non professional writers alike,
Lousie De Salvo who wrote Writing as a Way of Healing says that writing saved her life and offered a way of fixing things, of making things better or healing herself.
Alice Walker author of the Color Purple said, It’s really a matter of necessity and that you write to save your life and construct a sturdy kind of ladder out of the pit
Henry Miller, in a letter published in Art and Outrage said, “The more I wrote, the more I became a human being…I was getting the poison out of my system.
Anais Nin, essayist, novelist, and writer of short stories said, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.
In a study by Pennebaker it was discovered writing about traumatic events heals not just the emotions that may cause disease but also the body.
Writing boosts immune function. People who wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings about a stressful traumatic event had heightened T-lymphocytes in their blood which protects against abnormalities and infection.
Writing decreases the severity of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. All improved who wrote about stressful events. Writing improves after-care outcomes of heart attack patients. Five months post intervention the writing group had fewer medical appointments and were taking fewer prescription medications than the control group. They reported fewer cardiac related symptoms and had lower diastolic blood pressure
Writing promotes wound healing, In a group with healthy adults ages 64-79 Eleven days after the biopsy 76 percent of the adults in the experimental group had fully healed compared with 42 percent in the control group.
Writing reduces pain in patients with cancer. After writing the findings indicated that those with expressive writing had high emotional disclosure and had significantly lower pain intensity.
The studies based on Pennebaker’s expressive writing model provide scientific evidence to prove expressive writing offers biological benefits to people battling acute or chronic disease. Of course, it doesn’t kill cancer cells or viruses associated with serious illnesses such as Aids. And is not a substitute for psychological and medical treatment but all energetic approaches to release toxins blockages traumas at the cellular level is part of a holistic mind body spirit approach to healing.
Personal qualities or activities would suggest people develop to achieve their vision or goals. Writing is a powerful tool you can use to reduce stress and optimize your health.
We discussed Expressive writing to help get to the core of your stress and Affirmation writing to help you name your desired state of well being.
Then we go to Action Scripting to
- Write a Plan of Action and
- Define Smart Goals to support behavioral change leading to achieving a healthier and successful new vision or life.
Reflective Writing Promotes Insight Reflective writing challenges us to review life experiences by noticing how we have changed, developed or grown from these events. The language associated with reflective writing reveals a shift in understanding of your story, your causes of stress and why you’re tolerating such tension producing experiences.
Causal words, such as cause, effect, reason and “insight” words, like understand, realize know denote a search to find meaning in personal stress or trauma. Reflective journal writing is proven to have a strong connection to support learning. It is used in education, medicine, nursing counseling, coaching and professional development.
Diane and Sue might want you to remember The Key Elements of Step Four Plan to unlock an understanding you have of your readiness, competence and commitment to change your situation.
Let’s scan for words that provide positivity and perspective about yourself.
Words like Being Worthy…by realizing your self-worth you can energize yourself to face any obstacle Having Courage… You can do what you must and face even the things that frighten you
That You Are Enough…. You can find within yourself all that is needed to make it happen. While there is room for improvement, remind yourself you have the skills and competence to move forward one step at a time.
Sheryl thanks Diane Hartingh Price and Susan Ives McCollum authors of Write Your Stress Away for sharing their lifetime love of writing and finding ways to help others discover that journaling of daily occurrences or feeling will certainly help to reduce stress clearly see all the elements of what’s happening so better choices to achieve a healthier happier life journey can happen. Learn how to incorporate writing, listening and loving into your daily activities and Write Your Stress Away.
In summarizing today’s episode with Diane and Sue we have discovered a very valuable tool for finding ways past pain, trauma and stress and to assess whether an unconscious undercurrent in your life or range of emotions is at play and might lead to physical or mental illness. We have seen that research has found and evaluated ways or tools to help us lessen the pain of serious illnesses like asthma rheumatoid arthritis cancer ways and to reduce stress and heal the body. Diane writes “Research demonstrates that writing helps us organize and integrate the troubling stories that haunt us and identify the emotions that fuel stress and undermine health. Reflecting on and writing about emotional events releases pent up stress and gives people a new perspective on the event. The problems that seemed insurmountable before may be more manageable after seeing them on paper. With the act of writing there is no longer a need to ruminate over the problem, when your understanding increases, your stress levels go down.
Sheryl shares in her new book A New Life Awaits Spirit Guided Insights to Support Global Awakening that the result of writing about present day events and the stories gathered and recorded through twenty years of journaling of coincidences mystical happenings and her awareness that we are spiritual beings having a physical life and we are each much more than we appear to be. A medium told Sheryl years ago as started to awaken to a new perspective of Self and life to journal everything that was happening, as when she looked back at what was written she would see the tremendous progress made and also would have conquered many of her childhood fears as indeed she has. Her books Life Is No Coincidence and The Living Spirit offer tools for self-development and hope for finding happiness, health and peace as we realize more about our divine nature .
Diane Sue and Sheryl would hope you try writing journaling visualization prayer songs being in nature and getting closer in every way to your authentic loving inner being. It takes a small beginning effort and practice to produce tremendous results. Let’s all begin to write our thoughts, evaluate what is positive and purposeful and make our human and divine dreams a reality.