Excerpts from talk at Scientific Session
‘Stress , the Modern Epidemic: The Importance of Mind-Body medicine to deal with it’Dr Venkat Srinivasan (Internal Medicine Graduate Fellow, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine , Univ. of Arizona , USA)
Stress affects us in many ways and usually results in increased heart rate and blood pressure, diverts blood from the gut and kidneys, affects growth , reproduction and digestion, empties bladder or bowel, and results in lack of sleep.
Stress affects various parts of the body.
There are changes in the areas of cognition, learning, and emotion in the brain under stressful conditions.
Stress can also affect one’s immunity. The common cold can be a result of psychological stress and therefore you can think your way to fight an infection. Another reason for low immunity is loneliness. People with no outside activity, of low socioeconomic status, caregivers for a sick member, those who have suffered bereavement or some trauma, experience the stress of loneliness. Loneliness kills because health declines, and the brain deteriorates.
Does stress directly cause heart attacks? Angry people are more prone to heart attacks and the mortality rate is higher.
In the 21st century we are plagued by poor lifestyle habits that result in heart attacks. Therefore, people have to be more responsible for their own health.
Our emotions are connected to our genetic makeup. In times of stress, inflammation rises, the body’s response to viral infection lowers and levels of antibodies that protect us decrease thus lowering immunity.
However, the silver lining is that for every stress response there is an antidote…
Harness your mind and body to live a long and healthy life
Relaxation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and clinical hypnosis are proven stress busters. An easy method to unwind and bring down blood pressure is the 4-7-8 technique. Inhale 4 secs, hold 7 secs, exhale 8 secs. We can also make a few changes in our mental disposition and lifestyle habits.
Attitude matters. Be optimistic. Happy people live longer. Optimists take better charge of their health, so there are less chances of ill health.
CAREER, RELATIONSHIP and HEALTH are the three important things in life. Give equal importance to all three for a good work –life balance. We often hear of multi -tasking. However, it is actually the brain working very fast. Eliminate what you don’t like. Learn to unwind. Bring your head, heart and hands together.
The Important markers in lifestyle are diet and exercise. Don’t confuse fitness with health. A healthy person remains healthy by keeping fit. Get 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Finish your work and get enough sleep. Eat just enough food. Try to eat more of plant based foods. This will solve many problems.
Not getting sufficient sleep affects emotions, learning, motor performance, metabolism and cardio vascular health .
For good sleep, dim the lights at night. Your body will realize it’s time to wind down. Don’t keep electronic gadgets such as TVs or computers in the sleeping place. Make it a habit to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
Quality matters in relationships
In a Harvard study of adult behaviour it was observed that people with more social connections were happier and healthier and lived longer. Share your life with your loved ones. Marriage makes you live longer (Men -7 – 17 years Women 5 – 10 years)
Develop a positive attitude. Hold no grudges, forgive yourself and others unconditionally. Be an enthusiastic worker.