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Stress, you have a deadline to meet at work, it’s late and your brain’s gone blank!
Stress, the baby’s been crying and crying and you don’t know what’s wrong!
Stress, you’re going through an unforeseen relationship break up!
Stress, you’re late and all the traffic lights are red!
Homeostasis is an important process of the body which is always striving to keep the internal environment within a certain range. Therefore if the body gets too hot you sweat, if you are dehydrated you feel thirsty, if you’re lacking in oxygen you feel the need to breathe deeply or yawn. These are but a few of the many levels that homeostasis strives to maintain.
Once the body has been thrown out of homeostasis by stress it quickly acts to try to deal with that stress and return to the normal environment. The first response to stress is to mobilize energy from our fat cells and the liver in the form of glucose, simple proteins and fats. These nutrients are released into the blood stream and in order for them to reach their destination quickly the heart rate and blood pressure increase. In order to supply more oxygen to the cells the breathing rate also increases and for optimal energy some processes of the body which are not immediately essential are closed down. Therefore digestion, growth and reproductive processes are halted and even the immune system is inhibited.
This response to stress is extremely effective when there is an immediate physical danger for which we need to mobilize all the bodily resources to either run from or stand up to and deal with (the fight or flight response). However when that same response is triggered by an emotional or mental problem then it is a different story. All the chemicals which are racing around the body readying it for action do not get used and so they end up accumulating in the body. If this stress response is triggered too often then eventually this build up takes its toll and the body wears down making it prone to a variety of diseases. Stress can be a major contributing factor to everything from backache, headaches and insomnia to chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease and cancer.
That is why more and more, professionals in the health care system are recommending relaxation and meditation for their clients’ health and well being. At the Australian School of Meditation and Yoga we teach very simple and practical meditation methods that allow you to relax the body and calm the mind.
Cardiologist Herbert Benson, MD who has spent the last 30 years studying the effects of meditation says this form of stress management can benefit 60% to 90% of people who see doctors for illness.
“The relaxation response helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and slows breathing and brain waves,” he says. “Just about any condition that is either caused or made worse by stress can be helped with meditation.”