Relaxation versus Stress
- What happens in our body and mind if we are stressed, worried or even anxious?
- Why is it so important to relax and to calm body and mind?
- How can you learn to relax and to calm your body and mind?
1. What happens in our body and mind if we are stressed, worried or even anxious?
The relaxation response is exactly the opposite of the stress response in our body.
When we experience a physical or mental stress our body produces "chemistry" to enable us to fight or to run away. This is a perfectly normal and very necessary reaction in the body to help us to survive dangerous situations or to act with caution. After the mind has decided (conscious or unconsciously)that there is a stressors the adrenal gland will release Adrenalin into the bloodstream to allow the heart to beat stronger and faster, more blood flow to the lungs, heart and muscles to enable us to breath in more oxygen to nourish the muscles to to work more efficiently. Subsequently our digestion and brain will have less vital blood flow to them and will not be well supported in these kind of situations. Creative thinking and problem solving is impaired and we react more instinctively, are more limited in our thinking. This will self regulate after a while if the stressors disappear or we find ways to control our mind.
2. Why is it so important to relax and to calm body and mind?
For some stress is an ongoing state and that is where it interferes with our health. Digestion might be incomplete, toxins develop due to unprocessed rotting food in the gut, muscle enervation in the gut is either hyperactive or reduced resulting in possible bloating, constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowl syndrome.The liver has to "clean up the mess" as it is the organ to detoxify our blood and this is the liver's highest priority. All other jobs will be done on a lesser scale. Important task like to produce substances that break down fats, convert glucose to glycogen, produce urea (the main substance of urine), make certain amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), filter harmful substances from the blood (such as alcohol), storage of vitamins and minerals (Vitamin A, D, and K and B12 and maintain a proper level of glucose in the blood. The liver is also responsible for producing cholesterol
(which is an important building block for hormones and the membrane of each cell in our body).
Ongoing stress triggers the body in releasing cortisol which suppresses our immune system leaving us more open to bacteria and viruses to harm us. The posture will change due to muscle tightness in specific areas..and so on...
Now here is the good news! There is a cure, there is help!
The relaxation response is exactly opposite to the stress response.
When we relax (and that starts with the mind), we are able to digest, the heart rate will slow down and blood flow will reach into the smallest capillaries of the organs and into the peripheries (e.g.skin, face, feet and hands). That is why one is often "glowing' after a holistic massage. Organs like liver, stomach, pancreas, spleen, small intestines and large intestines work most effectively when we are relaxed. They are under the control of the parasympathetic nervous system which is activated in relaxation.
3. How can I relax?
As soon as the brain is relieved of the hustle and bustle of everyday decision making, planning and judging. As soon as we are focused on only one or two things which might be, the breathing, the heartbeat, an object or a story( guided meditations), that part of the nervous system kicks in and we get into relaxation mode. It is here that we have revelations about problems and issues, it's here that every cell reaps the benefits of equal blood flow to all parts of the body, being able to detox, repair, nourish and recharge.
Learning how to calm the mind is very easy yet completely unknown for most. It can be trained like a muscle. Creating experience in the body by repetition is the key. The more often you do it the quicker and easier it gets. Just like we have learned to walk, ride a bike or the car, it was hard and took a while and you had to think about each isolated movement and instruction given, trying to coordinate all of it into one smooth transition but by persevering and doing it over and over again it became something you can do now without even consciously thinking about it any more. Everyone can learn to relax and to calm their mind, you too.
Another wonderful and empowering aspect of relaxation is the fact that once our conscious mind is calm and focused (relaxed) you are very receptive for desired changes that you might want to accomplish. You could make your time of relaxation into a very effective "self improving" time for yourself and add some positive affirmations that you have learned.