How Do Your Stressful Mornings Affect Your Health?
Picture this: A stressful event happens. Your brain interprets it as a physical or social threat, which results in the activation of the regions of your brain associated with pain. Your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) triggers the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, followed by cascade of physiological events, which results in the production of inflammatory proteins and stress-related changes in your genes. This response to stress happens over and over and if not managed can become chronic, increasing your risk for inflammatory-related diseases, such as arthritis, asthma, certain types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and psychiatric disorders.
You Want to Move to the Land of No Stress, Don't You?
Avoiding stress altogether sounds lovely but is not realistic. Even positive experiences, like landing that dream job or traveling with a friend, can be stressful. You are responding to stressful events every day of your life, but how? How are you taking care of yourself, so as not to allow change and adversity to wreak havoc on your health? What are you doing to combat the effects of stress on your mind and body?
Yoga, Meditation & Prayer Can Be Life-Changing
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health defines mind-body interventions as practices that "employ a variety of techniques designed to facilitate the mind's capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms". MBIs include but are not limited to the practices of yoga, meditation, Qigong, Tai Chi, RR (relaxation response), and prayer. Click HERE for more information on MBIs.
An article published in Frontiers in Immunology in June demonstrates the power of mind-body interventions (MBIs) to improve mental and physical health. British researchers reviewed 18 already published studies, involving 846 participants, in which MBIs were implemented and gene expressions were analyzed, i.e., stress-related changes in genes were measured.
What the study revealed was that mind-body interventions, when practiced regularly, can actually reverse the the effects of chronic stress on gene expression and may reduce the risk of inflammation-related diseases. One study had dementia caregivers practice Kirtan Kriya Meditation for 12 minutes per day, for 8 weeks. Results of the study revealed a significant reduction of depressive symptoms and an improvement in the mental health of the subjects. Furthermore, gene expression analysis suggested this meditation practice "improved the immune system in terms of inflammation reduction and creating better defense against viruses". Another study implemented an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training to reduce lonliness and pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults. At the end of the 8 weeks, participants reported reduced lonliness, and gene analysis revealed a reversal of pro-inflammatory gene expression. *Find the review article here.
Consider More Than Just Medication
Yes, medication is powerful and effective in the treatment of disease, but medication alone will not cure all of your ills. No matter your physical condition - i.e., whether you are able to stand or walk - you can practice something as simple as closing your eyes and breathing deeply. When the mind and the body consciously connect, the potential for restoration, revitalization, and healing is there. Your life can get better.