Let’s consider a present day person – the minute he opens his eyes, his mind goes in an overwork – planning for the day, meetings, business deals, bills, finances, relationships… and the list goes on. Before a festival or some big events your mind is bombarded by it. You are making your breakfast, but your mind is at many places – watching your kids, partner, or even on a call! There is nothing wrong in this. It is even applauded as a ‘good-to-have’ trait by some. People talk about, brag about their ‘multi-tasking’ capabilities. Women are supposed to be better at multi-tasking than men! Have you considered what you do when you multi task? For instance having breakfast and watching telly or glancing at the newspaper? You do not enjoy the food you’re eating, you do not chew it enough to digest and produce enough enzymes in your body to assimilate it. And then you top it up with a pill to help you digest. This routine continues through the day, in the evening and late at night.
The result is a feeling of sickness, fatigue and restlessness. A large body of evidence suggests that stress related diseases emerge, pre-dominantly, out of the fact that we often activate a physiological system that has evolved for responding to acute physical emergencies, but we have turned it on for over everyday worries such as mortgages, relationships, work.
Our current patterns of disease would be unrecognizable to our great grandparents or, for that matter, to most mammals. Our nights are filled with worries about a different class of diseases: we are now living well enough and long enough to slowly fall apart. Animals react differently to stress. For them stress is immediate – they see trouble coming their way, and immediately mobilize a stress response in anticipation. Once the stress causing factor is gone, they relax. They do not worry about events far in the future as humans.
A stressor is anything in the outside world that knocks you out of your homeostatic balance, and the stress response is what your body does to re-establish homeostasis. During stress, our daily functions, such as digestion is inhibited – the body needs to concentrate all its resources to meet the stress. Hence, all non-essential functions, such as digestion, slow down. Our gut has got brain (I mean it is intricately connected to our central nervous system) and most of our problems start from there. Being in constant stress results in inhibition of growth and reproduction, loss of immunity, ulceration of vital parts, enlarged adrenal gland and the list goes on and on. Some commonly associated diseases are chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid artritis, depression, stress disorder etc.
Sometime stress related disease can arise from turning off the stress response too slowly or turning of the different components of the stress response at varying speeds. Hence, maintaining a balance between various stressors is very important. Think of a see-saw; you need to balance both the sides; if you give more attention to one stressor, it can cause others to aggravate leading to hormonal imbalance, emotional instability etc.
Stress is not always bad. Like in animals, in short term stress can be good for us too. For example, you witness an accident. Immediately, your body goes in an overdrive (Stress) and you rush in to help, call the police, and provide first aid. You do all these without realising it. During stress shifts occurs in cognitive and sensory skills, certain aspects of our memory improves, which is always helpful, energy is mobilized and delivered to the tissues that need them, pain is blunted and cognition sharpened. Walter Cannon, a well-known psychologist has used the term “fight or flight syndrome” to describe our stress response and he viewed it in a very positive light.
So, why this blog on stress? If stress is so integral to modern day life and there is no escape, whay am I writing this? The good news is that it is very much possible to identify the stressors around you and deal with them efficiently. Chakra healing, Tai-chi and many simple to do exercises can help you de-stress and know how to deal with it. I have discussed the healing power of Chakras in my earlier blogs, and there’s more to come.