Posts filed under ‘Fear’
By John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon.
Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke these words during his first inaugural address at a time this country was in the depths of the Great Depression. Powerful words, and perhaps outlandish to those living in severe economic hardship. Yet, they showed Roosevelt knew what needed to be addressed. Could this also be applied to our health?
Fear is often considered a survival mechanism. It can cause us to react quickly to avoid danger.
But one kind of fear is not so helpful. It’s subtle and ongoing, and doesn’t impel us to do anything. But it does influence our lives, if we let it.
Many people experience this kind of fear, or anxiety. Worry about finances, what people think, or even the unknown.
Another common worry is about health, even when there’s no evidence that something is wrong. Why does this happen? Especially about health?
Consider this: Jessie Gruman, PhD, executive director and president of the Center for Advancement of Health says that fear sells. [M]ass media fly on news — meaning information has to be tarted up to be used. This plants the seeds of fear …
Theologian and health writer, Mary Baker Eddy, observed how the media spreads fear about health in the early 20th Century:
“The press unwittingly sends forth many sorrows and diseases among the human family. It does this by giving names to diseases and by printing long descriptions which mirror images of disease distinctly in thought…. A minutely described disease costs many a man his earthly days of comfort.”
Ironically, long term unmitigated anxiety about health is not healthy. Dr. Herbert Benson points out that ongoing health anxiety has “… severe physical repercussions.” And Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at the New York University Medical School, elaborates that such fear makes us ”…more prone to heart disease, cancer and stroke, our greatest killers.”
So it would seem that fear brings on the very thing that is feared. What’s the answer? Drugs that lull fear?
I’m wondering if there isn’t a better way to live our lives–without the fear that makes us susceptible to the very thing we are afraid of, and without drugs to chemically suppress this fear.
Richard Schiffman may have hit on the answer when he talks about the benefits of prayer. He writes “[w]hat science can tell us is that people who pray and meditate tend to be statistically more healthy and live longer than those who do not. Benson also concludes “According to medical research, faith in God is good for us,…For many reasons, religious activity and churchgoing is also healthy.”
Could it be that prayer allays our fears because we’re actually connecting with a higher Being? Perhaps through prayer we come to understand that our lives are not out of our control. Perhaps through prayer we are actually active participants in controlling our lives, including our health.
While I can’t speak for others, I find that by starting with the fact that God is good I see my natural state as one of harmony and health. Instead of fear bringing unhealthy stuff into my life, having God’s goodness in focus brings good health into my experience.
Nothing to fear but fear itself? It may sound simplistic, but the link between fear and diminished physical health is becoming more widely accepted. Anxiety and fear can make us sick, without an underlying physical cause.
Maybe we shouldn’t fear that, either.
originally published on OregonLive, My Oregon