Stress Responses and Meditation

The fight-or-flight reaction is the body’s response to mental stress including job deadlines and major life changes. During this response, the stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol are produced to promote your response capability. Your heart rate is faster to prepare for physical reactions by pumping more blood and nutrients to the muscles. Your breathing rate is faster too to provide more oxygen.

In the meantime, the blood is moved away from your gastrointestinal system and into the muscles so that you may feel a loss of appetite. To see the condition more clearly, your pupils dilate. In addition, the skin is more sensitive, and the hair becomes standing on end.

Long term or chronic stress may lead to the strain of the autonomic nervous system and result in problems such as high blood pressure and digestive disorders. Maladaptive coping ways dealing with stress include the denial of the problem, becoming workaholic to avoid conflicts in the personal life, and even the use of chemicals such as alcohol, cigarettes, stimulants, and sleeping pills. Other maladaptive ways include eating disorders such as binge eating and bulimia. These reactions are very harmful to health and need to be avoided.

The life-force energy that animates the human body has different names in different cultures. It is called “prana” in Yogis, and “chi” or “qi” in traditional Chinese medicine. The mechanism of acupuncture is based on the adjustment of the life-force energy by inserting needles into acupuncture points for relieving pain and healing other diseases. Meditation can also help tune the life-force energy. The practice of mindfulness may help with stress reduction in a healthier way.

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