You can unwind from stress
Many of us have become so driven and overwhelmed by the demands of work and life that we tend to place a low priority on taking a regular time out to self-heal and regenerate.
In our hyperactive world, many of us have become so driven and overwhelmed by the demands of work and life that we tend to place a low priority upon the importance of taking a regular time out to self-heal and regenerate.
Our technological culture considers “doing” a primary virtue and we tend to value ourselves by how much we have accomplished. Even with so many of us tired, anxious, angry, and unwell, little value is placed upon letting go of our constant busy-ness and taking the time and “effort” to effectively release our body-mind from its stresses and strains.
A Modern Affliction
Modern stress is a chronic and unavoidable consequence of life in a rapidly changing and complex world. Although it is understood that a healthy level of stress is needed for proper functioning, the constant (and usually unrecognized) low-level stress that has become today’s “new normal” is now recognized as a widespread modern affliction.
Stress is implicated in helping to create or make worse most of the common diseases and symptoms that plague our society, including major ones such as heart disease, strokes, arthritis, immune system problems, MS, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and the less serious “rust of life” issues such as anxiety, mild depression, erectile dysfunction, PMS, allergies, asthma, eczema, headaches, and body pain.
It is important to realize that, technically, stress is nothing more than an arousal of the “fight or flight” reaction. Like a cat with its back arched, our body-mind reacts to real or imaginary threats–such as information overload, time pressures, or a missed telephone call–with arousal. This is a great reaction when facing a threat like an angry dog or a dangerous driver. It is, however, a problem when it is constantly turned on, even at low levels.
When chronic, the fight or flight reaction produces an inescapable strain on the body-mind, and it thus becomes important to attain periodic relief by removing or breaking out of the arousal state, even for a short time, and give your body-mind systems a chance to rest and recuperate.
This can be measurably done by deliberately triggering the parasympathetic nervous system and experiencing what researchers have labelled “the relaxation response.”
The Relaxation Response
What is it? The relaxation response is an innate strength, which physiologically counteracts the arousal state of the body-mind by producing an unusual state of restorative rest.
By measuring oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide elimination, it has been shown that within minutes the relaxation response produces a depth of rest that would otherwise require at least several hours of sleep to produce. Muscles relax and brain waves slow down as does breathing and heart rate. Digestion improves and cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels drop. Emotions become calm.
We thus can get out of our own way and allow our natural healing resources, the “doctor within,” a chance to come to the fore. We create a much-needed opportunity for the body-mind to replenish, balance, and heal itself, unimpeded by the need for constant vigilance. The benefits are felt throughout the entire body-mind as both stress and the relaxation response are global and affect every cell, organ, and system.
Give yourself permission to take a few minutes each day to unwind. This self-care “safety-valve” will significantly diminish or cure a great many problems related to stress. Added to proper exercise and diet, it can play a significant role in maintaining optimal health and add surprising quality (as well as quantity) to your life.