On managing stress: When the Body Says No

I had been interested in the works of stress scientist Dr. Hans Selye, but Dr. Gabor Maté brings into stress studies some areas where attitude reframing (some can simplify this as “positive thinking”) is little bit more difficult to achieve.

There are many workaholic/overly stressed people who do not know that they are miserable, and we might have tricked ourselves into thinking we’re enjoying something. Before we know it, we are getting sick and many of our vital organs are failing us. I know how this feels because I have been there and this was how I found this book (now in my Kindle).

Dr. Maté’s tome, When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection, brings to light stories of his patients that have endured so much. These terminally ill patients weren’t the ranting types. They, in fact, happen to be the most cheerful and happiest-looking people the good doctor has come across. And there lies the problem that he says most psychiatrists fail to address: it’s not all physiological, most of it is emotional and mental. Mind and body can’t be separated.

Ever heard of the saying “Mabait kasi kaya madaling mamatay”? (“Good people die young.”) Apparently, there is some evidence of it being true. There are many people who refuse to acknowledge that they have emotional needs or limitations — in the name of having a positive attitude regarding work or personal life —  that their bodies rebel to the point of breaking down. I’m not saying that it’s healthy to rant all the time. I don’t think it’s what Dr. Maté is saying either.

For me, negativity breeds negativity as well. But developing the ability to recognize that you have emotional needs — that you are not a robot in the work force and that your humanity must also be acknowledged — is important because it’s the first step to healing. This is a good read for those of you workaholics out there who tough it out but have forgotten to listen to your bodies.

If you don’t have time to read, you can get a quick idea about Dr. Gabor Maté’s philosophy through this video:

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