Do you ever have days when you feel like your head is just inches away from the lion’s jaws?
For many people, those days happen over and over; and the lion comes in many forms for modern people–the boss, the mortgage company, the falling stock, the bad economy, the doctor’s appointment, the kids’ poor grades, the cheating spouse, the collection agencies, the insurance claims, the broken furnace, the traffic jams, and on and on.
Our modern life is filled with fears that trigger our fight or flight response; once upon a time in the prehistoric world, this fight or flight response could save lives.
But today, its constant activation is significantly detrimental to our health. If you live with chronic stress, your path to enlightenment, to living anxiety free, could be compromised.
Stress And Health
Medical research is filled with studies that explore the negative effects fear, anxiety, and stress can have on our bodies and long term health. In particular, chronic stress, or chronic fear, can strongly impact the body and its physical processes.
Prolonged bouts of stress can lead to anxiety disorders, depression, sleep disturbance, muscle tension, intestinal problems, and much more. Cardiovascular health can also be dramatically affected by stress; a stressed heart can lead to serious complications and chronic disease.
In other words, living with stress induced by perpetual fear means you might be scaring yourself to death.
An elevated level of blood pressure can lead to heart attack; it’s important to remember that blood pressure becomes elevated in times of stress. When fear occurs from time to time, a short bout of elevated blood pressure may pose no health issue, so long as it drops back to a normal level.
However, chronic stress and fear can cause blood pressure to remain at elevated levels. Stress can also damage arterial walls by causing inflammation. Stress-induced hormones travel through the blood and may cause injury to coronary arteries. These injuries become places where cholesterol can pool and collect, and eventually lead to heart disease.
People who suffer chronic stress already tend to have higher cholesterol levels in spite of their diet. In such cases, the body’s ability to eliminate cholesterol becomes compromised. The body’s ability to process cholesterol essentially becomes interrupted as stress leads blood supplies away from the organs and to the body’s extremities–arms and legs.
Research suggests that the reason stress directs increased blood flow to arms and legs is due to the fight or flight mechanism that is triggered when a person feels stress. This misdirected blood flow is not good for the organs and their ability to function normally. As Mayo Clinic reports, “when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on.”
Coping: Striving For Enlightenment
Stress is, indeed, an enemy of enlightenment. Yet, it’s important to remember that the activities one practices to reach an enlightened state could actually help ward away the stress. The American Psychological Association recommends that people suffering from chronic stress commit to “one health-related” activity.
If you searching for inner peace, yoga, for instance, is beneficial for both mental and physical health.
When thinking about the ancients who historically strove for enlightenment, it’s important to realize that these people had stress to deal with too. They had their own unpleasant jobs, health
conditions, family concerns, and financial woes to contend with just as we do.
Many ancients, particularly Eastern philosophers recommended spending time in a garden. The Japanese, for example, perfected the tea garden to visit as a place of burgeoning enlightenment, a place to lose one’s worldly cares.
To enjoy more inner peace, be sure to read about some of the ancients who first instructed others about the path to enlightenment. There are also many contemporary thinkers who may offer simple yet sound advice.
According to Academia.edu, people may also find working for spiritual enlightenment to be a positive way to alleviate stress and feel whole again. The article suggests that “great love and compassion” and “helping others” could spur one toward their own path of enlightenment.
As you know, stress is a powerful adversary of a healthy heart and cardiovascular system and perpetual fear is an enemy to physical health and a sense of contentment, a feeling of enlightenment. While few people can eliminate stress completely, it is important to do something about diminishing chronic stress and fear.
Facing the fears that plague you is not only important to psychological health, but physical health too. Research suggests that exercise is a positive way to combat stress. Finding time to relax and getting a healthy amount of sleep can also impact your health positively. However, simply by working toward your own version of enlightenment, be it yoga or gardening, you can combat the stress that constantly plagues you.