What is Chronic Disease?
To begin there is a large variation in the use of the term chronic disease, the CDC categorizes chronic disease as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis, and defines chronic disease as: conditions that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They are also leading drivers of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual health care costs.
Nearly half of the American population (approximately 45%, or 133 million) has some kind of chronic disease. Interestingly enough, more than two thirds of all deaths in the United States are caused by one or more of these five chronic diseases:
1. Heart disease 2. Cancer 3. Stroke 4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 5. Diabetes
Stress and Disease
There are many alleged reasons why some people get or don't get diseases such as genetics, poor diet, excessive drinking and/or smoking, lack of physical activity and more. However, there are many studies that indicate that it is much more complex than this. Some studies show that there could be underlying unaddressed challenges on the subconscious level, suggesting that we are making ourselves sick, without even knowing!
An interesting reason for this is stress, it is a well known fact that stress causes the body harm in so many ways, causing high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and is proven to cause heart disease. There are many studies published that clearly indicate stress can cause disease, especially chronic stress. Stress also makes it difficult to control emotions, which is another reason why it is so detrimental on the human body and can cause problems at home, work and with a persons social life. Stress can lead to long term disability, it can make people gain and lose weight in incredibly unhealthy ways, and most importantly it weakens the immune system tremendously making the body a perfect nesting home for disease.
Disease VS Dis-ease
An interesting concept that is widely used is the word disease versus dis-ease, and the lack of ease or calm within the body. Waking up in pain or discomfort is "dis-ease" within the body, some that have pain will take pain killers or stretch it out, but it is the dis-ease day after day that is not properly dealt with that causes disease. This could be emotional and/or physical pain that is left untreated that is problematic. Some leave these pains untreated for numerous reasons, they don't believe in the medical system, or they don't want to believe that they are sick, or they have a stubborn belief that "it is nothing" and "they are fine" and more.
There is an interesting thought pattern about this and that is the difference of the word disease, which is quite negative, versus dis-ease and ease being a more positive and uplifting word. If someone is suffering with disease the mind tends to think negatively about the problem, causing more stress and sadness within the body, whereas those thinking about their illness as dis-ease tend to believe that there is a problem within the body that can be fixed, and has positive outlook of the illness. This is an amazing difference because those with a positive outlook on their disease, statistically speaking, tend to get better faster and go into remission, while those with a negative mindset have anxiety and depression, and a potentially fatal outcome.
Meditation and Stress
Unfortunately with society's busy and stressful lives, there are more and more people who are in a constant state of the fight or flight response, causing constant stress and over producing the stress hormone cortisol. This is a dangerous state because this can lead to disease and illness. Being in this heightened state our bodies tend to react poorly, our emotions are not regulated and this is when a person can become irrational on many levels. Meditation can help tremendously with this, and any other stressful situation or if practiced on a regular basis can help with reducing blood pressure, depression, anxiety as well as increase productivity, creativity and immunity and much more! Some great ways to start mediation is YouTube, and following a guided meditation. I recommend PowerThoughts Meditation Club, they have great meditations for stress, sleep, relaxation and more and have affirmation videos as well. There are also some great apps that you can download on your phone such as Calm or Headspace. Yoga is also wonderful to practice along with meditation to help reduce stress, this can help reduce pain and regular practice can reduce inflammation as well, by producing Adiponectin, an anti-inflammatory hormone.
Some Great Reads
One of the most interesting topics in todays chronic disease news are patients suffering with chronic disease and going into remission without conventional medicines. A great book to read with this topic is Radical Remission by Dr. Kelly A. Turner. She advises combining conventional with unconventional medicines and has many wonderful tips for those suffering including:
Radically changing your diet: trying an organic plant based diet.
Taking control of your health: taking an active role in your health, being wiling to make changes in your life, being able to deal with resistance.
Following your intuition: listen to your gut instinct.
Using herbs and supplements: some plant-based herbs and supplements boost immune systems.
Releasing suppressed emotions: letting go of emotions we hold on to from our past and their connection to our physical health.
Increasing positive emotions: happiness can be the most important medicine
Embracing social support: having loved ones to take care of us.
Deepening your spiritual connection: physical healing due to one's connection to a deeper (or higher) energy.
Having strong reasons for living.
Another great book to check out is When the Body Says No by Dr. Gabor Mate. Which promotes learning and healing, providing transformative insights into how disease can be the body's way of saying no to what the mind cannot or will not acknowledge. Thus, once we confront and eliminate the internal challenge (or battle), the disease or condition will diminish (or disappear).
Minding the body, mending the mind by Joan Borysenko is great to read for understand the mind body connection, meditation healing and reducing anxiety and stress. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is being introduced to meditation or that has ever had troubles with meditation as well.
"Once your replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you will start having positive results"