Have you ever worried about something too much that you ended up with a terrible headache? Or have you gotten home feeling sick after dealing with a very bad day at the workplace? We’ve all been there. Every day, we deal with a number of stressors that cause the release of stress hormones in our body. Some of the examples of these stressors are challenging events, major life changes, and environment stressors. While stress is a natural response of the human body, we sometimes fail to realise that unbalanced stress can eventually lead to chronic and life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, high-blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks, and serious mental conditions.
What is Stress?
Stress is the body’s natural reaction to perceived or actual threat. Selye (1956) defined stress as the effect of anything that seriously threatens homeostasis or the state of maintaining our environment in a stable state. Stress is an essential part of human survival where the fight-or-flight mechanism in the brain was programmed to tell the body when and how to respond to a danger.
There are two types of stress– the Good Stress or what the psychologists refer to as Eustress, and the Bad Stress. Eustress motivates and helps an individual to move forward and achieve more goals. This is also the type of stress that makes people feel excited or when you get “butterflies” in your stomach and the palms of your hands get sweaty. On the other hand, Bad Stress hinders progress and could cause serious mental and physical health issues. A stressful workplace, bad environment, failed relationships, or an unhappy home can bring chronic bad stress. In result, the body would respond to the Bad Stress in the form of low energy, inability to complete tasks, body aches, headaches, irritability, changes in appetite, having troubles falling asleep, and more.
Statistic on Stress
Stress has become a “world wide epidemic” that the World Health Organization (WHO) has dubbed Stress as The Health Epidemic of the 21st Century” in 2016. Numerous studies show that job-related stress is the top major source of stress in the United States of America. Meanwhile, a recent global survey of 1,000 corporations across 15 countries done by The Regus Group revealed that the levels of workplace stress have risen over the last two years.
In 2015, the result of The Australian Psychological Society (APS) revealed that younger people aged 18-25 reported low levels of well-being than older Australians. Other key findings show that 35% of Australians report having a significant level of distress in their lives while financial issues are rated as the top cause of stress over the five years. Additionally, 72% or majority of the Australians feel that stress is having at least some impact on their physical health while 64% believe that stress is having an impact on their mental health. These results are consistent on the past studies which indicate that stress has a harmful effect on both physical and mental health.
How stress affects all Organ Systems?
Stress affects all organ systems in the body specifically the endocrine system, immune system, musculoskeletal system, and gut health. When the body is under stress, stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine are released by the body in situations that are interpreted by the hypothalamus, a certain part of the brain, as being potentially dangerous. Elevated Cortisol, the stress hormone, interferes with learning, memory, immune function, and more. Stress and elevated Cortisol also increase the risk for mental health illnesses such as anxiety and depression. These stress hormones also act by mobilising energy from storage to muscles, increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate and shutting down metabolic processes such as digestion, reproduction, growth and immunity.
However, thanks to our brain, there are also hormones that help elevate happiness. These are called the Happy Hormones:
What is Meditation?
Meditation describes a state of consciousness where the body trains the mind in connecting the awareness back into present moment in time, rather than living in the past or future too much. It is a means of balancing the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental health and well-being. Numerous studies including one by the Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital show what meditation does to the brain. The study showed that meditation provides cognitive and physiological benefits and that the practice helped improve brain structure. While meditation is often associated with religious beliefs, meditation’s fundamental is science.
Meditation for Stress
Does meditation help balance stress? Yes. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years to help reduce stress. When under stress, our body reacts with an increase in blood pressure and pulse rate, faster breathing, and increased blood flow to the muscles. Practicing meditation allows our brain to stay at the present moment and training our mind and body to connect into the awareness leads to more relaxed emotions, enhanced mood, lower blood pressure, improved digestion, and a reduction of everyday stress.
One of most powerful effortless meditation is conscious breathing. It is about bringing your awareness to be present and become an observer, rather than be overcome by the fight or fright response of the reptilian brain. It’s a choice between to be controlled by the sympathetic nervous system or choose to support your parasympathetic system by practising meditation (self-connection) and be in charge. It’s just a practice of feeling yourself in moment of distress.
Stress is inevitable. What you do to balance your stress is what matters. Below is one simple way I take control of my reptilian brain’s response to stress.
Stop, Feel and Breathe. When in state of fear, worry and anxiety take over and breathing stops. Allow your body and mind to come back to the present moment. Feel everything that is happening in your whole body from head to toe- aches, pain, heat, warm, irritation, overwhelming emotions, and more.
STOP and OBSERVE. Know that it will soon pass. Observe your outbreath. Empty your lungs fully and take control of the rhythm of your breath. Remind yourself that you are the driver taking your awareness back to your inner home and sanctuary for peace and calm. Remind yourself that it’s just a physical momentary experience. It’s alright. You know that you are an inner being, light being, passing through, and moving through you in time and space. Take in full breathe in, slowly breathing out to let go of the worry and any tension your body is holding on.
Do this 6 -12 times until you notice the feeling of peace and calm coming back to you.
Body-Mind — Frequency of being
According to Dr. Robert O. Becker in “The Body Electric,” the human body has an electrical frequency and a person’s health can be determined by it. Frequency is the measurable rate of electrical energy flow that is constant between any two points. In 1920, Rife Machine, one of the first frequency generators, was invented by Dr. Royal Raymond Rife. According to the same doctor, every disease has a frequency and certain frequencies can destroy and prevent the development of diseases such as cancer. Moreover, another researcher named Bruce Tainio built another frequency monitor in 1992 and discovered that the average frequency of the human body during daytime is 62 to 68 Hz. According to Tainio, when the frequency drops to lower levels, it enables the appearance of variety of diseases.
There are some ways to help our body raise the frequency to a healthy level. Fresh fruits and herbs have 20 to 27 Hz and can be higher if grown organically and eaten freshly picked. Clinical research shows that essential oils have the highest frequency of any natural substance known to man, creating an environment in which disease, bacteria, virus, fungus, etc., cannot live. Essential oil frequencies start at 52 Hz and go as high as 320 Hz for some essential oils. Aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of essential oils, has been proven to produce an alteration in brain waves and behavior. Research findings showed that Aromatherapy can reduce the perception of stress and decrease levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. In relation to this, Aromatherapy can enhance the relaxation benefits of meditation where an individual allows the boy and brain stay at the present to help reduce stress.
Gut Microbiome, how important are they?
The human body is a whole ecosystem. In addition to the organ systems, the body is a home for over 100 trillion of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses which are often referred to as the Microbiome. This Microbiome is essential for digesting the food, regulating our immune system, protecting against other bacteria that cause disease, and synthesis of vitamins including B vitamins B12, thiamine and riboflavin, and Vitamin K, which is needed for blood coagulation. Old research reveals that Microbiome outnumbered human cells by 10:1 ratio which suggests human beings have more bacterial cells than human cells. However, recent a study in 2016 made by researchers in Israel and Canada shows that the ratio of human cells and Microbiome are more likely to be 3:1, 1:1 in approximate. The researchers also added that some human bodies might have half as many or twice as many bacteria.
Where does the Microbiome stay? Microbiome resides on the surface and in deep layers of the skin (found in crevices, linings, skin fold etc.) oral mucosa, nasal mucosa, salivary glands in the conjunctiva, and in the gastrointestinal tracts. It seems like the Microbiome are everywhere. However, the human body carries about 100 trillion in its intestines where metabolic activities are performed by these bacteria resemble those of an organ. It is said that Microbiome on the gut weighs at least 2 kg and these Gut Microbiome play a crucial role in our health.
Numerous studies have been conducted with regards to the role of Gut Microbiome and how it affects our health. The largest study of Microbiome and Gut Health in 2012 suggests the importance of a plant-based diet and the relationship between gut bacteria and mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. The research shows that some types of bacteria may be more common in people who live with depression which only supports previous studies regarding the connection between Gut Health and Mental Health. Other studies also report not only the linkage of Gut Microbiome to the development of cancer but also its role in improving the effectiveness of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy.
Stress and Gut Health
According to a research, exposure to stress leads to changes in composition, diversity and number of Gut Microbiome on which the Gut produces more harmful bacteria that can affect the physical and mental health of an individual. Chronic stress makes the digestive tract more permeable, as well as alters some of its basic functions. When the gut is affected, the body becomes more vulnerable to serious illnesses such as having low energy, insomnia, cardiovascular problems, weak immunity, anxiety, depression, and more.
Not only the stress can affect the Gut Microbiome and its functions but Gut Health also plays a role in balancing stress. Another study reveals that Gut Bacteria produces chemicals such as Serotonin which regulates the mood, prevents depression and makes an individual feel better. Other healthy bacteria in the Gut also help lower the Cortisol, the stress hormone, which when elevated increases the risk for mental health illnesses such as anxiety and depression.