Stress has been defined as America’s number one health problem. Stress can cause physical illness as well as mental and emotional problems. Stress triggers problems such as insomnia, personality changes, difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, depression, anxiety, and irritability, to name a few.
Stress can cause or aggravate diseases of the digestive tract, muscle aches, and outbreaks of the skin. In fact, it is difficult to think of any disease in which stress cannot play an aggravating role or any part of the body that is not affected.
Stress affects the body by setting off an alarm in the brain, which in turn prepares the body for defensive action. The nervous system is aroused and hormones are released to sharpen the senses, quicken the pulse, tense the muscles and deepen respiration.
When the body is kept in a constant state of activation, it increases the rate of wear and tear to biological systems. Ultimately fatigue damages cells, and the ability of the body to repair and defend itself is compromised. As a result, the risk of injury, physical, and emotional problems increases.
Stress management can improve an individual’s ability to cope with difficult situations. Some of the methods that have successfully reduced a person’s stress level include cognitive restructuring and relaxation training, individual or group therapy, creating structure and routine, and lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise.
With the appropriate tools, a person can successfully reduce his or her stress level and in turn improve overall health and attitude.
Again I have to go back to meditation. We know that nerve cells that fire together wire together (see the post on neuroplasticity - rewiring your brain). By practicing meditation, we are literally teaching our brains to slow down our thoughts, focus, and relax. Just like with anything else, the more you practice the better it gets!
Here is a 10 minute guided meditation to get you started.
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.