"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome."
- Samuel Johnson
One of my friends sent me this lovely quote. It reminded me of the many risks and obstacles we face in life. We often are paralyzed to take the actions to make our lives more fulfilling, energized and joyful. Many of us are scared about the future and the word “change”. If we want to reduce the impact of negative stress in our lives, we have to be aware of how much we tend to take things personally that actually are not personal. We rush through life, meeting deadlines and missing out the fun aspects of our life, our loving relationships and the beauty around us. We literally shape our brain to run in this treadmill of more stress, anxiety and unhappiness.
Our brain is plastic – that means both the function and its structure can be changed quickly and permanently to become positive and joyful. Even a simple act of spending a few minutes with our loved ones, indulging in our favorite art activity or thinking of our last vacation has the ability to energize and relax us. We often wallow in self-pity and self-doubt and don’t fully realize our strengths and our inner resilient nature - having the capacity to bounce back when things go wrong, and ability to enjoy life even when we have pain, stress and challenges.
Science has shown us that these practices can shape our brain and enhance our well-being. Make time for these three important activities on a daily and weekly basis. These practices are as important as healthy eating and hydration in managing stress and building your resilience over time!
Combine these activities. Go to a meditation or yoga class with your best friend. Walking meditation in a local garden or labyrinth may be a beautiful break from your daily stress. Help out with a local 5k race. Most important – don’t just read this article. Share it with a friend or family member and spend time with them! Take Action! Now!
My friend Vicki created the beautiful CORE graphic for us! The acronym CORE serves as a reminder of the components of Resilience:
C – 5 Cs - Compassion, Courage, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking
O – Optimism and Hope
R – Resilience
E - Energy - healthy eating, meditation and physical activity
R J Davidson, B S McEwen, Social influences on neuroplasticity: Stress and interventions to promote well-being Nat Neurosci. Apr 15, 2012; 15(5): 689–695.doi: 10.1038/nn.3093
Steve Paulson, Richard Davidson, Amishi Jha and Jon Kabat-Zinn Becoming conscious: the science of mindfulness, doi: 10.1111/nyas.12203 Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1303 (2013) 87–104
You often see reports about stress "causing" heart disease in the popular media. There are two separate issues - heart attack versus heart disease. Heart disease occurs over a period of time - heart attack is a specific event - often the last stage of heart disease as a person succumbs to this disease.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack is a very specific event! A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle itself is severely reduced or stopped. The reduction or stoppage happens when one or more of the coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle is blocked. This is usually caused by the buildup of plaque (deposits of fat-like substances), a process called atherosclerosis. The plaque can eventually burst, tear or rupture, creating a "snag" where a blood clot forms and blocks the artery. This leads to a heart attack.
If the blood supply is cut off for more than a few minutes, muscle cells suffer permanent injury and die. This can kill or disable someone, depending on how much heart muscle is damaged.
The medical term for heart attack is myocardial infarction. A heart attack is also sometimes called a coronary thrombosis or coronary occlusion.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease refers to conditions in your arteries and other blood vessels related to your heart. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) refers to the build of plaque in your arteries (see atherosclerosis above). In some individuals this "process" starts as early as 2 years of age. CAD can result in angina (chest pain) or heart attack or other health complications.
Several factors play an important role in heart disease including your family history, cholesterol levels, level of physical activity and smoking. Many studies suggest that anger and negative handling of stress can have a powerful effect on a person's immunity and risk of heart disease. People who hate their jobs have double the risk of dying from heart disease as compared to people who enjoy their jobs. It must be understood that the "garden variety" of stress is common for most people. It is not the "stress" that kills but how we handle it.
The bottom line - if you have anger issues or you have "unhealthy" ways of dealing with your stress levels - consider meditation and other relaxation methods.
03-18-2010 Original Publication
05-03-2014 Links updated
a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.