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Could Emotional Patterns Make Us More Susceptible To Cancer?

There is a lot of research, clinical data and statistics related to cancer – types, causes, and treatments – available to anyone interested in looking them up. There are, of course, the usual suspects /causes of cancer (more on that later). But there could be a case made out to look beyond the obvious. Scratch deeply and look below the surface. There is another omnipresent trigger we lug around and don’t give this Machiavellian it’s due. It coexists as both cause and effect, feeds off us, is often suppressed, and is usually the last to be addressed, if at all.

‘Unaddressed and unresolved emotions’.

The source of these could be singular, or more likely, multiple. Cracking or crumbling relationships, pressures of work (often tied up with a sense of ‘worth’ & ‘success’), irritants at home (from the mundane to the serious), overwhelming sense of responsibilities as a spouse, parent, child, maintaining a lifestyle, etc. come to mind easily. This tangle slowly and silently claws away at body, mind and soul. Some may immediately label it ‘Stress’. But this emotional web can manifest in other physio-psychological avatars too. It is silent and deadly. It attacks all systems- skeletal, muscular, nervous, circulatory, etc. All organ systems on one hand, and cognitive and emotional on the other, interfering with and impairing our quality of living and coping abilities. While one needs to clearly distinguish and recognize medical reasons for what they are, the truth is, this silent trigger is omnipotent. Abstract though it may seem, emotions wield the power to mess with our tangible systems. They have the capability of producing unwanted, negative, and damaging results in the human body. Sometimes, drastically so.

SHOULD WE BE LOOKING MORE SERIOUSLY AT OUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH IN OUR BATTLE AGAINST CANCER?

A long, relaxed conversation with a cancer survivor friend brought this aspect to the fore yet again. He has overcome cancer twice and tried all treatments – mainstream and alternate, including adopting a complete lifestyle change which most of us can only aspire to. But there remains an unaddressed issue. After years spent on this journey of cancer, getting on and off track, he calmly mentioned this point in relation to his experience of it. It was interesting to hear him analyze his own life experiences. Aware of what’s impacting him (acknowledging the source of his emotional drain), he recognizes the need let it go, and admits that he hasn’t been able to yet. Driven by his emotional moorings, he hasn’t been able to sever this source of recurring negativity in his life despite nudging by family, friends, healers and a few doctors.

He further went on to calmly say that till such time as he lets go, he is not fighting the root causes of cancer completely. (I say ’causes’ so as not to make an oversimplified case of cancer triggers, especially in relation to emotional health, nor is it my intention to present this as a thought in conflict with medical advice or challenge it.) He intends to seriously weigh the worthiness of continuing with this emotional baggage and its impact on his body.

DOES THIS MATTER?

He isn’t the first person – or the last – to have mentioned this connection. There is something more than pure abstraction at play here. And it’s worth acknowledging the elephant in the room. We are, after all, feeding it and it is rolling its weight all over us. Emotions impact us and negative emotions more so. Our bodies respond in myriad ways trying to combat it. Labored breathing, racing/irregular heart beat (cardiovascular), tight muscles (muscular), tingling in fingers/toes (neural), aches and pains (skeletal and muscular), compromised digestion, high/low blood pressure (other body systems)… these are just some common perceptible symptoms and responses to our altered emotional states. We have all experienced them to varying degrees and at different points in our lives. Not to mention what happens to our (emotional) responses and thought process.
It becomes a cause of concern when this altered state continues for a longer period of time. The body appears to adapt and these symptoms become silent and internal in nature. The impact, meanwhile, continues on a wider, cellular level, and various manifestations of this silent aggressor may emerge over a period of time, including possibly, as cancer.

SHOULD WE EMPOWER OURSELVES BETTER?

Does it mean all cancers are somehow the result of negative emotions or negative emotions will always lead to cancer? There is no definite, categorical ‘Yes’ as an answer. But, it could prove helpful investigating and addressing how our underlying emotive states may be leaving us exposed to greater possibility of serious health conditions, including cancer, along with all other clinical causes. As a precautionary tool, I reckon paying attention to emotional health plays a rather important role. We know that a healthy and fit lifestyle has so many advantages in serving as prevention for many health conditions. ‘Fitness’ needs to encompass emotional and mental health (strength and fortitude) too, by constantly sieving out the negative and enhancing the positive. It requires acknowledgement and working upon, with a conscious approach. As a cancer coping mechanism, focusing on positive emotional health and reducing negative (draining/sapping/unhappy/stressful/fearful) emotions plays a powerful role.

Emotions have the power to alter the human state at the conscious and subconscious levels. They can be an ally or a foe in our battle against ill health. They have the ability to align internal systems/processes to either facilitate or hinder external efforts.

So while one may refrain from an outright ‘yes’ to the question raised above, one cannot say an outright ‘no’ either. As science discovers deeper working of the human ecosystem, it is increasingly revealing the intertwining of our emotive state with our physical one.

Humans are emotional beings.

We cannot challenge it nor ignore the fabric that differentiates us. When one goes against the basic grain it creates friction. Prioritizing striving for a residual state of positive emotional health needs a deliberate plan and push. It is not easy. But neither is cancer nor its treatment. Using different techniques to spot and train our emotions, create emotional alchemy, makes sense now more than ever before, with different types of cancers spiraling and affecting all age groups, sometimes with the known triggers missing.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” –C. G. Jung

Originally printed on bodyinmotion.in. Reprinted with permission.


Vani Pahwa is a Functional Fitness specialist with over fifteen years of experience, and cutting-edge certifications from leading internationally-accredited and globally recognized fitness institutes. She is also a Cancer Exercise Specialist (perhaps one of the first in the country). Sought after for her multi-disciplinary fitness modules and expertise, Vani has conducted fitness workshops for leading corporate houses, conditioning and training camps for various sports communities, training programs for coaches, personal training programs for CEOs of multi-nationals, athletes, junior and senior sports professionals among others. Her combination of specialties, client profile and range, and extensive work experience makes her unique in the country. She is the founder of Body in Motion.

** If interested in further research on the topic you may read up related links including:

arrow road

The Power of Purpose

I have Parkinson’s. I call it “accelerated aging” because it is a progressive neurologic disorder that simulates aging. On my bad days, I feel ten to twenty years older than I am.

For your information, a bad day, for me, has me struggle to get out of bed specifically having to focus all my energy on one arm and then the other arm to just move enough to get my bed cover off my body in hopes of coming up with a strategy to get out of bed and to the bathroom in time. I stressfully drive to the gym and at least show up to the one-hour fitness class. I put on boxing gloves to hit the bag and my arms don’t respond to what my mind is commanding that they do. But I show up. I then go home and walk around my house because I cannot find a comfortable place to sit. Medical marijuana allows me to sit, but makes work, household chores (if fact, almost everything) impossible. The term of art for this phenomenon is “off periods.”

What I can say is that, when I am doing something purposeful, I somehow am able to muster the strength and, yes, courage to get up on stage and provide inspiration to my audience. I love standing in front of a group and provide words of wisdom that help others to change their behavior. It is how I “make a difference.”



For example, I just traveled from Sarasota, Florida to Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday, attended a reception Tuesday night, attended breakfast with the Medical Science Liaison Society on Wednesday, did a 45 minute inspirational talk, attended much of the conference, enjoyed the Awards banquet, went out late with a group of attendees, went to be late, got up early on Thursday and travelled back to Florida. The thing is that I was on the whole time. I had my slower moments, but was able to summon the energy to stay engaged the whole time. I call it the “power of purpose.” It happens to me every time that I have an engagement. I also call it “staying engaged.”

By way of a second real-life example, last Tuesday, I flew to New York City, On Wednesday, I attended my father’s induction into the High School Athletics Hall of Fame. On Thursday, I was in the audience of the Wendy Williams Show, talk about the power of positivity waiting in line with some pumped up people at 7:00 am. On Friday, I took a train 2 hours each way to inspire about 100 individuals at the Mid-Hudson Parkinson’s Association. Finally, on Sunday, my wife and I threw her mother an 80th surprise birthday party. We flew back Tuesday and I was useless for several days. My point is that you can summon the energy to overcome anything for a finite period of time if it is in line with your purpose.

Stay Engaged. Fulfill your Purpose. Make a Difference. Have Faith.


John Baumann is a 17 year veteran of Parkinson’s who has demonstrated the desire and discipline to continue to have an amazing life. He exemplifies the word “resilience” starting out as an attorney, then, after getting the news that he has Parkinson’s, continuing to practice for ten more years while getting prepared to fulfill his lifelong dreams of teaching at a University, writing a book on success, and finding his life’s purpose as an inspirational speaker. John graduated from the University of Massachusetts and Cornell Law School. He worked for Exxon for 10 years before accepting the position of General Counsel of Steel Technologies. John was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002 when he was 41 years old. Since being diagnosed, he has taught law at the University of Louisville, College of Business, written a book entitled, Decide Success: You Ain’t Dead Yet, and delivered over 100 keynote presentations.

active adults walking

Can movement be therapy for emotional stress?

The more rhythmic and intense the movement, the greater this effect, since it elicits focus.

Emotional stress makes life overwhelming. Sometimes, we experience an extremely stressful or disturbing event, while at other times we accumulate the stress of upsetting interactions over time. In either case we are left feeling emotionally out of control and helpless. Our minds feel like a hamster spinning away on a wheel, leaving us drained, heavy, disconnected and incapable of making rational inferences and decisions. Our bodies feel like logs being lugged around, making daily chores onerous.

Irrespective of how it’s triggered, emotional and/or psychological disharmony has wide-ranging physical reactions and symptoms. While most of us know of the emotional impact (feelings of sadness, anger, fear, guilt, self-doubt and many more) the physical impact is not widely spoken about. This could include muscular tension, aches and pains, difficulty sleeping or insomnia, breathlessness among others.

Everyone’s triggers and responses are unique. Healing from emotional stress, hence, cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution. If symptoms persist for long or are severe, do seek professional help. That said, there are a few practices that can aid in self-healing.

Movement

Movement can be therapeutic for a number of reasons. As we know, stress impacts mental and physical equilibrium, turning the body into a repository of unpleasant side effects. A prolonged state of negative emotions like anger, fear and hyper responsiveness in daily life, adversely impacts the muscular and nervous system. Movement and exercise can help address this at a dual level. At a physical level, it helps by releasing endorphins (aka happy hormones) and calming adrenaline. The more rhythmic and intense the movement, the greater this effect, since it elicits focus. Target at least 30 minutes of exercise/movement on most days. It could be any activity that interests and engages you, be it dancing, yoga, sport, running, swimming, cycling. It might feel better to do it in company, to help break any self-imposed isolation. You could split it up over intervals during the day (though half an hour is not much of an ask to reset yourself and get your mind, body and life on track!).

Mindfulness

Try to pay full attention to the activity and how you perform it. Stay with the process. The mind will eventually tune into the rhythm of the body, making you more ‘mindful’ of the activity and yield a positive sensory outcome, including from deep within. For some, this may be attained with gentler workouts, and for some more intense activities could derive the response, depending on one’s personality as well as physical capacity. Remember, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way here. The beauty of movement is that it serves all, and it can be scaled up and down dynamically to make you feel most connected and generate positive inner vibes.

Deep breathing

Focus on the act of breathing and on how the breath goes in and out of the body (‘mindful’ breathing). It acts as another powerful therapeutic tool. This is true even during movement. Movement becomes more mindful when you focus on the breath while executing it, maximizing positive benefits physically (more oxygen, less physical stress) and mentally (greater connection with self, less mental stress). It aids in giving the mind a much-needed break while energizing the body.

Good sleep

Try maintaining sleeping and waking up time and hours even though it may seem silly or impossible. For those with sleeping difficulties or insomnia, the body clock needs resetting, requiring some repetitive reinforcements to break the negative cycle. It’s essential to retrain the body and mind to rejuvenate, rest and recuperate.

Changes won’t happen overnight, but all these practices together can go a long way to impart a greater sense of control, which propels us towards a happier state. It’s about reclaiming peace, being kind to ourselves and catalyzing inner healing.


Vani Pahwa is a Functional Fitness specialist with over fifteen years of experience, and cutting-edge certifications from leading internationally-accredited and globally recognized fitness institutes. She is also a Cancer Exercise Specialist (perhaps one of the first in the country). Sought after for her multi-disciplinary fitness modules and expertise, Vani has conducted fitness workshops for leading corporate houses, conditioning and training camps for various sports communities, training programs for coaches, personal training programs for CEOs of multi-nationals, athletes, junior and senior sports professionals among others. Her combination of specialties, client profile and range, and extensive work experience makes her unique in the country. She is the founder of Body in Motion.

Original article published in a leading national daily:  https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/movement-as-a-therapy-for-emotional-stress/article26566357.ece

kid-swing

14 Fun Ways to Get Your Family More Fit

Time is one of life’s most valuable commodities. Consequently, between school, work and every day demands in today’s hectic world, family time is becoming more of a fond memory of days gone by. Additionally, television, computers, cell phones, and other technology are taking the place of family activities and interactions.

The decline in positive family interactions at home, and the increase in leading a more sedentary lifestyle, are two of the greatest threats to our children’s health and wellness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “family has a big influence on how we perceive exercise and mental health. Exercising as a family not only gets the entire family moving to reap the benefits of exercise but also models healthy beliefs about physical activity and improves family relationships”. And with childhood obesity becoming a nationwide epidemic, getting kids moving and active is extremely vital.

As parents, we want only the best for our children’s future. Making time for simple and fun family activities can have a profound impact on the mental and physical well-being of every single family member, both young and old!

Here are some fun, budget-friendly ways to bring your loved ones closer together and get a little exercise at the same time!

1. PLAY: Avoid television for family entertainment. Go to the park and play, have a family sports night (soccer, basketball, etc.), play Frisbee, hop scotch, or get a mini trampoline.

2. PETS: If you have a dog or other pet, actively play with them as a family and even take them on a family walk.

3. SWIM: Go to the beach, lake, or public pool. Swimming is fun and lively, and your family won’t even realize they are getting exercise.

4. WALK: Walk to the store, walk to school, etc. Get pedometers for the whole family and see who can rack up the most steps. Certain ones even log your steps online or through apps, so you can expand the contest to your friends and other families.

5. ADVENTURE: Every weekend, try a new activity your family hasn’t done yet. Hiking, bowling, canoeing, ice-skating, etc., all are active exercises disguised as fun. Let each member of the family have their turn to pick the next activity, so they stay involved.

6. GYM: Join a gym that offers family discounts, and work out together. If you can afford a personal trainer, they can organize a routine for each family member.

7. WILDLIFE: Visit a zoo, wildlife preserve, or an aquarium where you’ll be walking most of the day.

8. GIFTS: When birthdays and holidays come around, give gifts that encourage fitness. Jump ropes, Frisbees, running shoes, balls, active toys, etc., can all inspire your family to get up and get moving.

9. STAIRS: Encourage your family to take the stairs, instead of the elevator, whenever possible. If they object, make a creative game out of it.

10. REWARD: Exercise can be a reward. Offer to play catch with them or play a game of kickball or capture the flag as a break from homework or chores.

11. FRIENDS: Invite your child’s friend along for any of these activities. Kids have more fun with their friends, and are more likely to want to do it again.

12. FUN: Make things fun! Build an obstacle course with your family and have everyone participate. Have hula hoop contests or play active games like hot potato, Simon Says, and Duck, Duck, Goose. The internet is a great source for finding new games to play.

13. CHORES: Household chores done as a family can be great exercise (cutting grass, cleaning, etc.). You can also make chores fun by adding a “challenge” element. Kids love challenges. “I challenge you to put away all your toys in 1 minute.” You can have a fun family reward at the end like fruit popsicles.

14. DANCE: Dancing is a great form of exercise and is a lot of fun. You can have the kids each pick their favorite song and even have themed dance nights where you dress up in funny outfits.


Kendra K is an award-winning music artist with a passion for educating and entertaining children. She is a seasoned singer, songwriter, producer, pianist and violinist with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Arizona. Kendra has worked as a physical education teacher and is also certified as a national health and fitness consultant. When Kendra is not busy writing songs and recording albums, she enjoys donating her time and talents as a children’s health advocate. Her biggest joy in life is spending time with her husband and their young son at their beach side home in the Los Angeles area.

Visit her website, kendrakmusic.com and her new children’s music CD is available through Amazon or CD baby

 

References:

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/May-2016/Exercise-for-Mental-Health-8-Keys-to-Get-and-Stay

https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/index.html