Stress affects us all and is arguably getting more intense for us as the world gets ever faster and more complicated. A person’s stress and their experience of it is at the core of the work homeopaths do to understand the individual and the deepest level of how they perceive their situation.
The World Health Organisation defines stress as “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation”.
It’s worth recognising that there’s a very positive side to stress – it can help motivate us to do something and it can be the source of our self-worth, driving us to be our best. But it is usually talked about as the cause of misery, anxiety and physical symptoms. Patients coming for homeopathic treatment usually know instinctively that stress is tied up with their health problem.
To explain how homeopaths understand the role of stress, I think it helps to have an example patient who is experiencing troubling symptoms: introducing Louise who has two children under 5, and an elderly mother who needs her to visit frequently. Louise also needs to work in a job she is most definitely not enjoying, where she feels nervous of her critical boss. Every day she dreads going to work and she feels snowed-under and anxious with demands from every direction and no time to herself. She gets frequent headaches and her eczema flares up whenever she gets upset. On top of that, at night time, she finds it hard to relax and go to sleep, so she is usually tired. Her husband just doesn’t seem interested in giving her any practical help, he just finds fault with her.
Louise can describe exactly where her stress is coming from and how she is affected by it. If only she didn’t have to do so much. She longs to be free from anxiety and to be able to relax.
Many people spend a lot of their time in trying to relieve their stress. Good practices include taking regular breaks, going for a walk, talking to a good listener, breathing techniques, taking up a hobby, improving their diet, going on a holiday…
The trouble with these and other measures is that they ameliorate but don’t cure. They are temporary solutions: a holiday is fantastic and lets you be yourself again but you have to return home to the same situation which triggers you just as badly as before.
The answer lies within the person rather than the situation itself.
Louise wonders whether things will be okay once her mother is in a home and the kids have grown up. Or if she could change to a job where her boss didn’t criticise everything she did. She needs to work on her marriage too. This is what she yearns and plans for – once the situation changes, surely things will be better?
An aside: I knew someone who’s neighbours were so loud she couldn’t bear it. She moved house and that turned out to be too near a busy, noisy road: she couldn’t sleep and became so agitated and obsessed with noise that she is thinking of moving again – somewhere really, really quiet. This person is taking their problem with her: she thinks she is removing herself from the stressful situation but, here, we can see that the problem is within herself: she can’t bear noise.
Just as Louise wants to change her situation.
The opportunity came for Louise to see a homeopath who saw that she feels criticised: by her husband, her mother and her boss at work. Nothing she does is good enough, resulting in her feeling under-confident, resentful and that she is doing everything for others with no time to herself and no appreciation. All she gets in return is criticism. She perceives that other people criticise her and she is under-appreciated and that feeling goes with her wherever she goes.
Everyone is an individual – and each person perceives and interprets the world through their own filter. This can easily be demonstrated by showing a horror film to a crowd of people. There will be some who love the adrenalin rush; some who have to watch through their fingers and maybe just a few who are traumatised for ever and go on to have nightmares about giant spiders. It all depends upon each individual’s sensitivity and their unique susceptibility.
Stress is the same. Other people work with Louise and not all her colleagues feel criticised. Some describe their boss as a strong leader, others find him a good laugh… it all depends on the perception of the person and the dynamics that creates.
So that is how homeopathy delves down to the root of the problem: understanding that people view the world through their own unique filter, means that the homeopath can step into that person’s shoes to see how they are experiencing a situation (and how experiences throughout their life are felt). A person will express the same way of seeing something, whatever the situation is – for example, Louise tells of her upbringing where her mother never said a kind word and always thought she wasn’t good enough; school was terrible because they didn’t understand what she needed; people in shops always “give her a look” as if she is beneath them… In a very stressful situation, it is that same, familiar, basic feeling of being criticised, not feeling good enough, that is apparent and informs the unique way that Louise experiences her whole life.
A very good, matching, homeopathic remedy will ease that underlying perception over time and allow the person to feel more confident, freer and more resilient. Emotional and physical symptoms heal – all leaving the person in much better, overall health. Healing starts with the easing of the negative innermost perception at the centre of all the person’s problems.
After taking her prescribed remedy, Louise was able to ask her husband for help her and found she was speaking up for herself in a positive way much more. All her relationships improved because she felt at peace and more confident. She started to enjoy her job and found that her headaches and her eczema began to clear up. She found time for herself but was also happier with her life.
Homeopathy treats the whole person when there is a good understanding of what makes that person individual.
What is the unique perspective of the world that causes your stress?