Are You Making Yourself Sick?

Posted on July 10, 2015 by

I was chronically ill for 15 years. When I was so sick I was determined to get well and I focused on doing everything possible to return toAre You Making Yourself Sick Snip health. I gradually learned that although I do need to do things to promote healing, it is even more important to look at how I am being, thinking, and feeling.

I have always worked very hard, always giving 110% or more. When I got sick I had been working 100 hour weeks for years. I got very little sleep so I could get up early to drive an hour to work. Sometimes I worked all day, plus midnight to 5 AM. I was usually at work on the weekends. I rarely gave any thought to taking care of myself or my needs. This changed suddenly when I was in pain all over my body and exhausted every day. It was a wake- up call for me to make some drastic changes.

It wasn’t easy going from being a workaholic to limiting the number of hours I worked. It felt very scary at first. I was afraid of not being good enough, not doing a good enough job, not doing enough. Have you ever felt this way?

The doctors didn’t really know what was making me so ill. Since the traditional medical community wasn’t helping, I found the alternative medical community which began to figure out some of the pieces of the puzzle of why I was so ill. I learned about the immune system, food sensitivities, nutrition, and exercise. Then I discovered that I could turn down my pain considerably simply by taking the time to stop, lie down, and listen to a 12-15 minute guided meditation with a progressive relaxation.

When the walls of my church were painted with oil based paint that triggered flu symptoms due to my chemical sensitivities, I was introduced to a spiritualist church. There I learned that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience and that we all have the ability to communicate with spirit, our higher power, source, infinite intelligence, God – or whatever you like to call the divine energy. I took some classes to learn to go within and began to receive wise messages for myself and others.

I took a Reiki practitioner course and learned about universal healing energy. I studied with many health experts who each gave me knowledge about health and healing. I learned about the effects of stress on our body and our health.

Now I know that our physical health is a reflection of the rest of our life. If we are stressed out, our body physiology changes including our stress hormones, heart rate, blood pressure and even our brain waves. When we expect our brain and body to function without enough rest, nutrition, and down time to reset everything, we are asking for trouble with our health.

If we are constantly thinking negative or worry thoughts, or if we often feel stressed, anxious, angry or any of the negative emotions, we are sending a powerful message to our body that promotes havoc and illness.

What can we do to create health in our life and our body?

First, take a good look at your stress level. What demands do you try to meet every day? Do you feel like you are under constant time pressure? woman-with-mesy-deskDo you have more to do than is possible to get done in the time allotted? Is there family conflict? Write a list of the stressors in your life. Then look at what things you could take off your plate, say “no” to, or delegate to others.  Take an online course for how to get better at transforming your stress.

Second, pay attention to the content of your thoughts. Notice if they are usually upbeat and optimistic or negative, anxious and predicting the worst. Every time you realize you are thinking a negative or anxious thought, stop and take a moment to replace it with a more positive thought that feels better when you think it. For example, “I will never get this project done on time” could be replaced with “Since I am behind on this project I will ask for help or a time extension”. Or “My sister is nasty to me” could be replaced with “Sometimes I get along great with my sister. Next time she is mean to me I will let her know how I feel and go home”.

Third, pay attention to how you feel. How you feel at any given moment is the most important factor in creating what you want in life. If you always feel bad because you are sick or in pain, then chances are good that you will continue to feel that way. Instead, when you notice you feel bad, close your eyes and image you already have what you want – such as a body that is in good health and pain free. An example I use is remembering how good I feel when my body feels good and how much I love to feel that way. Focus on the good feeling and the love feeling. Really get into the feeling. This acts like a magnet to actually feel better. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between imagining to feel that way and actually feeling that way.

Fourth, spend some time going within. Your outer world is a reflection of yourclip_image002_0007 inner world. Learn to turn off your busy thoughts and let your mind rest. Clear your mind. Tune into your intuition, your source, or the divine energy. Or pray. Ask for guidance and listen quietly and patiently for the answers. Use a guided meditation to help you get started such as my Mindfulness Toolkit CD.

Debra Burdick, LCSW, also known as ‘The Brain Lady’, is an international expert on ADHD and Mindfulness. She is an award-winning, #1 best-selling author of: Mindfulness Skills Workbook, Mindfulness Skills for Kids and Teens, ADHD: Non-Medication Treatments and Skills for Children and Teens, Mindfulness for Teens with ADHD, Mindfulness for Kids with ADHD, Mindfulness Skills for Kids Card Deck, and Radical Self-Care When You Are Ill Card Deck. She is an international speaker and retired psychotherapist and neurotherapist, who has been helping all ages thrive for over 30 years.

I would love to hear your personal experiences with this topic.


  1. It is so good to get an update of the exciting & wonderful events & experiences in your life. Trip to China must have been amazing. I am planning a trip to China with my 14 year old daughter who was born in Chongqing. Also, congratulations on your marrige & the new grandchild, not to mention the wonderful books.
    Sharon Wilson Ft Myers Fl

    Comment by Sharon Wilson on at

  2. Hi Sharon,
    Good to hear from you. We visited a 2nd grade class in a school near Chongqing. It was so much fun.

    Comment by Debra Burdick on at

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Categories: Anxiety, Articles, Business/Workplace, Chronic Illness, Depression, Fear, Mindfulness, Pain, Stress
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