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Fit Fridays with Antwone Muhammad: Stressed? Don’t worry be happy

(Photo credit: Tito G Photography)

The world consists of two types of energy: positive and negative.

As human beings, our bodies absorb positive energy from pleasant or happy experiences or negative energy from pain or stress. As it relates to our well-being or health, my experience in life has led me to believe that positive energy has a level of healing power and negative energy can cause or contribute to sickness and disease. What strengthened my belief in this theory is during my fight against breast cancer. I was always told by physicians that maintaining a positive energy is extremely important during the process. I have always appreciated the benefits of maintaining positive energy and recognized the effects of negative energy, but nothing drove my understanding home like undergoing chemotherapy.

During chemo, my immune system was heavily compromised. The medication from chemo kills both good and bad cells of the body leaving a person completely vulnerable to the environment they are in. You can become immediately ill from something as simple as a strong fragrance in the air or if your surroundings are not consistently cleaned. In one of my previous columns, I discussed how the positive mental energy I maintained during and after my surgery saved my life because physically, I was not suppose to survive losing eight pints of blood and having a blood transfusion in less than 24 hours after a major surgery. On the flipside of that idea, when I was receiving chemo and my body and immune system were compromised, I gained a new understanding of the effects of stress. If something upset me or stressed me out while in that weakened state, I would start having cold symptoms within a couple of hours. Now some might call that coincidental, but this happened every single time within a couple of hours after the stressing moment. I began to heavily police my daily thoughts and anything around me that could influence my mood or attitude. If I encountered something that was potentially stressful, I would immediately shift my thoughts or focus to something happy or pleasant and dwell there. What I realized is that the more I did that, those potentially stressful moments were no longer followed by symptoms of sickness. As a result, I began to think of myself when my body and immune system were not compromised. I began to ask myself how did stressful moments have an impact on me then? Was stress taking the same toll on my body but only taking longer to feel the effects because my immune system was stronger?

The advice that physicians had given me in terms of keeping a positive energy began to echo in my mind. I began to analyze everything around me posing the question how does this person, place or thing effect my energy? Is the effect negative or positive? I also began to analyze the alleged potentially stressful moments and asked myself, is it worth it? Am I stressing from an actual situation or worry? My grandfather, Earnest Young, used to say that worry is just a down payment on a problem that does not belong to you yet. Constant worry can actually create the very thing you don’t want to happen. If the potentially stressful moment was from an actual situation, I learned to process it differently mentally. I learned to find the good or value in the experience and appreciate it. Just as the world has both positive and negative energy, people also have problems both big and small. While I was fighting something as big as cancer, I could not waste valuable time and energy on the many small issues I encountered. I learned to only feed the positive energy by not sweating the small stuff and choosing my battles wisely.

I choose happiness over everything.

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