Exercise and diet are part of the answer but there’s more.
It is possible to build wellness in more ways than previously thought. Although nutrition and exercise are powerful contributors to our state of health, our personality may be our most powerful weapon against the disease of the century, cancer.
Humans are a complex ecosystem, hardwired for survival with a large, modern, thinking brain. Part of the human condition includes emotions. These emotions have a powerful affect on our state of wellness. Anger, depression, hostility and hopelessness make us more likely to succumb to disease, while optimism and happiness supercharge our immune system, keeping us strong in the face of illness.
It turns out that, while we may embrace an Eat Clean lifestyle filled with whole, natural foods and plenty of exercise, we could fall into one of two personality types, that make us prone to cancer and disease, or not.
The disease prone personality, has a tendency to suppress all emotions, often demonstrating these denied feelings through anger, hostility and resentment towards others, even when unwarranted. That same person is always busy, taking on more responsibilities than they are able to handle. When life hits them with change, they don’t cope well, living in a pessimistic or hopeless state. They can be relentless worriers, stewing over things endlessly. And they spend enormous amounts of time trying to please everyone but themselves.
Their disease resistant counterparts choose to express all emotions, positive or negative, in a healthy way. When faced with situations that do cause anger, they elect to resolve them with healthy strategies, rather than lashing out. “No” is an important part of their vocabulary – they are able to know when to say it and do so with grace. In stressful situations, disease resistant personalities cope with stress well and don’t yield to feelings of hopelessness. They are optimistic and positive, never easily succumbing to depression. They don’t ruminate or stew. Instead they find social support through healthy, positive communities. They act instead of reacting.
Doctors working in the field of cancer, have repeatedly found that the disease resistant personality or Type C, as coined by Dr. Lydia Temoshok, is different from her less hardy sister. In her work, Dr. Temoshok found that patients who didn’t respond well to treatment always had the “thickest tumors and poorest prognosis.” These were the patients with poor disease resistant profiles. They were often angry, overwhelmingly nice, in denial and had low self-esteem.
Other doctors noted that cancer patients often had deep seated family problems in which they were not close to either or both of their parents. Sometimes that rift could go back as far as childhood.
Canadian doctor, Gabor Maté, believes that the Type C personality is more vulnerable to stress, saying, “It is stress – not personality per se – that undermines a body’s physiological balance and immune defences, predisposing to disease or reducing the resistance to it. Physiological stress, then, is the link between personality traits and disease.”
Having experienced cancer in my family, I agree that there is a cancer resistant personality and that there is a Type C personality, who does not enjoy such immunity. Emotional factors, intrinsic to each of us, can easily be overwhelmed by eating processed, nutrient devoid foods, particularly sugar and refined carbohydrates. Combine these with lack of exercise, poor sleep habits, toxic overload and more, and it is easy to imagine the door being held open to disease, deep inside our cells. While lifestyle and genetics play a role in wellness, stress can be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.
I worried about how well my own immune system would be able to resist disease, especially cancer. There have been years of stress overload in my life, much of which I did not bring upon myself. Would it not make sense that I too would be more prone to illness as a result?
I worked hard at maintaining a rigorous exercise schedule, a tight Eating Clean nutrition plan and dealt with the life blows as best as I could. That look me part of the way towards wellness but it has only been in the last few years that I began to explore how to deal with the emotional burdens I carried. I knew I had to do more to strengthen myself against illness, from an emotional point of view, if I were to thrive.
Today I practice meditation both on my own and in a group of supportive women who do the same. We meet weekly, sharing our experiences – good and bad. We often hold Meditation Getaway Weekends where we turn off electronic distractions and take care of our emotional selves.
I also use Binaural Beats to bring myself quickly to a deep meditative state. The more I practice mediation, the more I crave it. No day feels complete without it now. You can find loads of binaural beats guided meditations on YouTube but the key will be to use a good quality set of earphones, making sure to put your earphones in or on the correct ears to hear the binaural beats properly. There is a Left and a Right earphone! I use a set of Bose headphones.
I also journal daily, recording anything that my brain needs to dump onto paper. No one sees the writing but me. There is no editing, only offloading. I don’t judge the writing, nor edit it. It is purely for brain cleansing purposes that I do this. I may miss the odd day but I take my journal everywhere and try to be as consistent as possible with it.
Meditation, journaling, exercise, Eating Clean, volunteering, walking and being as optimistic as possible, helps me be as close to the disease resistant personality as I can be. Our immune system responds to stressors good or bad and we can choose how to allow those stressors to affect us.
Interestingly, a powerful way to deal with stressful events that are often our of control, is to take that energy you would normally spend on dealing with the event, and focusing it on a new event that IS in your control. What will your new event be?
I am always listening.
PS. I am curious to know how about how you deal with stress? Let me know in the comments section below …