“Your body is precious. It is your vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” ~ Buddha
By: Marlene Affeld ~
Stress, a preprogrammed biological response of the body characterized by symptoms of emotional or physical tension in reaction to a situation in which a person feels anxious or threatened, is experienced by everyone at some time in their life. Man or woman, adult or child, no one is immune. For many of us, stress seems an inescapable “part and parcel” of our daily lives.
Stress triggers an alarm in the brain, known as the “fight or flight” response, prepping the body for defensive action. When the nervous system is alerted of potential danger, respiration deepens, muscles tense and our heart picks up the pace.
Drugs.com describes stress, stating, “The unpleasant emotional state consisting of psychophysiological responses to anticipation of unreal or imagined danger, ostensibly resulting from unrecognized intrapsychic conflict. Physiological concomitants include increased heart rate, altered respiration rate, sweating, trembling, weakness and fatigue, psychological concomitants include feelings of impending danger, powerlessness, apprehension, and tension.”
Stress can be positive in that it helps us develop the skills required to adapt and cope with the new situations, environments, and potential dangers and threats that arise throughout life. In an emergency, stress helps us respond to the crisis.
While occasional or short-termed episodes of stress can be positive and presents a small risk to our health, stress-provoking situations that go unresolved keep the body in a constant state of “alert”, which increases “wear and tear” on our biological systems and accelerates aging.
Prolonged stress, regardless of its origin, is tiring and compromises the body’s ability to heal and repair itself. Fatigue, irritability, stomach distress, headaches, and insomnia are typical early signs of stress overload. Troubled relationships with family and friends, compulsive behavior, difficulty focusing, memory loss, loss of libido, anger management issues and weight loss or weight gain are other common symptoms of stress. Research studies confirm that accumulated effects of chronic stress result in an increase in illness and injury.
Stress Provoked Reactions
Everyone reacts to stress in their own unique way. Common reactions to a stressful event may include insomnia or excess sleeping, crying, fears about the future, depression, reduced interest in daily activities, a desire to be alone, aggression, loss of appetite, irritability, erectile dysfunction, memory loss, disbelief, feelings of guilt, bad dreams, reoccurring bad memories, and suicidal thoughts.
Stress And Disease
Over the past decade a wide body of medical research studies have demonstrated the relationship between chronic stress and a diverse variety of ailments. Stress, when severe enough, can overwhelm a person’s ability to care for themselves or their families. Stress has been shown to be associated with several types of chronic health problems especially psychological disorders, musculoskeletal disorders and cardiovascular disease.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
When some people experience an extremely frightening traumatic event, such as military engagement, a natural disaster or a near-death event, they may have an intense and prolonged stress reaction to the event known as PTSD.
While the old advice of making time for adequate rest, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise can help the body combat the effects of stress, stress management techniques that involve calming the mind and consciously relaxing the body as practiced in guided imagery or meditation have proven to be the most effective for long-term management of chronic stress.
The benefits of meditation are amazingly diverse. When practicing meditation your breathing and heart rate slows down, you blood pressure returns to normal, your body uses oxygen more efficiently, your mind clears and your senses sharpen. People that meditate daily find it easier to control life-damaging habits such as drug abuse, alcohol, and smoking.
Initially, your mind may tend to wander when you practice meditation, however, by training your mind to focus on the present moment, you will begin to feel a transformation and a sense of peace and contentment.
If you have difficulty controlling your thoughts and they constantly return to the negative or the source of your fears and sadness, meditation teaches you to be watchful of your thoughts and consciously only chose positive ones.
As with any new skill you are trying to master, meditation requires daily practice to acquire mastery of the powerful technique. For persons in Indianapolis and regional Indiana that would like to learn more about Zen, Tibetan, Christian, Hindu, or non-sectarian meditation, a visit to a group meditation session will answer questions, provide guided meditations and help you master a practice that can literally change your life.