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  • Dr. Aimee Warren

Stress: Be a Conduit, Not a Battery

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

Headaches, palpitations, crippling anxiety, sleepless nights – these are common manifestations of unmanaged and unruly stress. I recently had a patient go to the Emergency Room after an hour of stabbing chest pain. At 56 years old and with a family history of heart disease, he was certain he was having a heart attack. While at the hospital, he underwent an echocardiogram, nuclear stress test, and an angiogram and had no evidence of blockages in his coronary arteries and no heart disease. When he came in to see me a week later, he was both relieved that his tests were normal and also baffled as to what was causing his pain. “You don’t think stress could cause that, do you?” he asked. “It felt so real.”

We often underestimate the impact stress can have on our bodies. We minimize and ignore the alarm bells or signals in our bodies that tell us that our stress level is too high. Our hustle culture lifestyle normalizes stress, so we downplay its impact and neglect ourselves.

As a primary care physician, I have a front-row seat to the wreckage and havoc that unmanaged stress can provoke. Every day, I see patients feeling the real and stark consequences of this pressure cooker lifestyle, and I’m here to tell you that unless you start paying attention to and actively shuttling stress out of your body, your body will pay the price.

You probably know that stress can increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. What might be surprising, however, is that research shows a direct correlation between stress and chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer.

All of this aside, being overly stressed also just feels awful and can create a canyon between you and the happiness, peace, and fulfillment that you deserve.

So what do we do? Stress is an unavoidable side effect of living in the world – we can’t escape it. It will forever ebb and flow into and out of our lives, and we’re all told to “manage” our stress like an errant employee.

To me, managing stress doesn’t make sense. Stress is energy. It’s a cascade of input from the outside world that moves into our brains and bodies and creates a flood of biochemical reactions. We can’t “manage” energy. It’s like telling someone to manage a thunderstorm.

The only thing we can do with energy is store it or let it pass through. We can store stress like a battery - all charged and ready to light you up like a Christmas tree. Or, we can let it pass through - like your insides are made of copper, and the stress just glides on by.

Being a conduit for stress means you let it move through you. You aren’t holding onto it, ignoring it, pushing it down, or attaching to it. Being a conduit means you receive the messages that stress is sending, but don’t let it hang around. A lot of stress is important – it brings meaningful messages about what needs attention or what needs to shift in our lives. So being a conduit allows us to view, interpret, and channel our stress as a guide rather than an anchor.

Being a conduit can also mean changing the energy of the stress as it passes through you. You can shift the voltage and amplitude of stressful or negative energy and even change it into something good. Negativity begets negativity unless met with an alternative charge. Negative energy and toxic stress can spread through our homes, the workplace, or our relationships like wildfire. When you are a conduit for stress and can maintain a level of detachment from it, stress can enter in, but you provide the opportunity to shift its energy as moves through. Spreading gossip is a good example of this. When we spread gossip, it can create a stressful, nasty, and negative vibe in the office, between friends, or in families. As a conduit, the gossip spreads to you, but you don’t share it - you let it pass in one ear and out the other. Better yet, you confront the situation head-on and, if you are in the position to do so, open the line of communication between those involved.

How do we shift from battery to conduit? My strategies are similar to the “manage” tools we’ve heard before: meditation, time in nature, exercise, mindfulness, a good night’s sleep, a trip to the Bora Bora. When we’re doing these things, or if Bora Bora isn’t in the budget, I've found that thinking about stress in this battery/conduit framework helps me remember the energetic impact stress can have, notice when I’m holding on to it, and mentally let it pass through me without getting stuck.

I hope it also helps you not “manage” your thunderstorms but be present for and mindfully use them as a guide and a teacher. I also hope that you use your copper insides as a conduit to forever shift your energetic vibration to spread more kindness, more love, and more joy. Your health depends on it.


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