Why Should You Have Peace of Mind?

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Modern Life and Stress

Stress is a fact of modern life that is difficult to escape. Stress can also lead to severe mental and physical disorders, if not managed or treated. It leads to depression, hypertension, and cardiac arrest. I was not even clearly aware of my stress level until I began writing my stress journal. In some cases stress can cause sudden death if not detected early. There are several early warning signs of stress such as unprovoked anger, difference in one’s behavior, tiredness, confusion, loss of appetite, depression etc. From my personal experience I can claim that stress can be managed, coped with and it was easy for me to lead a stress-free life. This required me to maintain a stress journal and record the events and reactions of the day.

Somewhere down the road before undergoing stress control program I happened to read an article The Language of Emotional Intelligence by Jeanne Segal, PhD. It made me aware that stress was controlling me. However, after completing the stress management program I learned how to control my stress level. It is our emotional intelligence that plays a key role in handling stress. Earlier, I didn’t know there was a technique to boost my low energy. If I felt agitated, the feeling lingered on for hours and sometimes for days. I couldn’t easily get out of my anger. I didn’t know how to quickly calm and soothe myself when I felt agitated. I had difficulty turning to my friends and family members so as to soothe and relax my nerves. Nor could I turn to my colleagues at work. These behaviors in me indicated that I was not only a victim of stress that I failed to recognize but also that I was not emotionally in a frame of mind to handle the stress I was experiencing day and night for several months. Although, I escaped with little impact of stress on my health because I became aware of it when it was not too late, this cannot be said of a majority of the people who are stressed and unwittingly invite lifestyle diseases.

It is important to recognize that while stress is pretty much normal within a level. However, uncontrolled stress can lead to a condition known as distress evident in physical symptoms like upset stomachs, headache, elevated BP, sleeplessness and chest pain. Symptoms or diseases can further worsen due to stress as pointed out by several researches.

Risk Factors in Stress

Scientific studies on stress can be quite informative in understanding stress and coping up with it. Dias-Ferreira (2009) identifies the link between chronic stress and the biased decision making due to contrasting structural changes leading to different behavioral strategies under the impact of chronic stress. In a study it was found that women with central fat, that is, high waist to hip ratio are at a greater risk of stress and cortisol reactivity. When subjected to stressors, women with high WHR in comparison to women with low WHR secreted more cortisol with the implication that women with high WHR are at a grater risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia (Bell et al, 2000). Yet another study was conducted in response to this study to reduce weight through the physical activity so as to lower the level of blood pressure. The study high lighted the importance of exercise in lowering high blood pressure. However, the study also brought the importance of behavioral weight loss program (Appelbaum et al, 2000). Similarly, a DukeUniversity study evidences that aerobic exercise combined with weight loss program is more effective in lowering blood pressure and stress (Babyak et al, 2000).

Siddhartha Smiles

Combating Stress

What has been your approach to combat stress

  • Medication
  • Meditation
  • Both 1 & 2 Above
  • None of the above
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Pranayam and Meditation

The importance of pranayam and meditation is now increasingly being recognized by the medical fraternity in combating stress. The tradition of mindfulness goes back to Siddhartha Gautam, the Buddha who lived around 6th century B.C. He probably understood the role of human mind and the thought process in leading to stress and strife. His method of quieting the mind was to passively observe the fleeting thoughts. When the mind is at peace with itself it leads to complete rest of mind and body thereby enhancing the immunity. Gautam Buddha is often depicted in the meditating posture. However, it is not necessary to sit all day long practising meditation to combat stress. Even ten minutes to half an hour of meditation is enough to keep an individual calm for the day. However, it is also important that along with meditation, an individual follows ethical injunctions to gain the peace of mind. If an individual is ethically sound in thought and speech as instructed by Gautam Buddha, they can considerably reduce the agitation of their mind. If you are honest and truthful, you have nothing to fear. If you are non-violent, you are fairly stable. On the contrary violence in thought and behavior is a reflection of anger. In other words, the basis to a successful mental and physical health is a stable, calm and quiet mind.

Gautam Buddha demonstrated remarkably developed level of emotional intelligence. There are recorded stories of his encounters with violent bandits and agitated beasts. He could successfully overcome the challenges not with the use of brute physical strength but the power of his calm and stable mind. It is my hypothesis that an individual with a stable frame of mind who is at peace probably transmits some kind of mental waves with transformative characteristics. The basis of this hypothesis is several experiments demonstrating mind over matter.

Recognize and Address Stress

It is important that stress is not left untreated. It is important to recognize stress. In fact it is important to recognize the bad form of stress, the form of stress that damages your mind and body. Stress in some form is normal and quite harmless such as for instance when you are going to face an interview or when you are going to address an audience. However, at some point due to work pressure, office and home environment and other factors, mild forms of stress may develop into chronic and harmful form of stress when you need to be careful. One way to address stress is meditation. Experiments on meditating lamas have demonstrated that their mental wavelength while meditating is what is identified as "theta waves" indicating deeper levels of relaxation. No wonder, meditation can not only combat stress but help us attain goals efficiently in a remarkably focused manner.

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