The unresolved mystery of emotion and resulting human reflexes are still a matter of great interest for scientists around the world. The best brains in the world are still searching for root causes that initiate a series of physical actions without the permission of general conscious.
Shivering of body with high level of excitement, increasing heartbeats while waiting for something important, a feel of cramping in the stomach, are a few such reflexes that everyone has felt in certain events and in extreme cases of anxiety and anger some people even faint. Why such reflexes happen is still a mystery to people and researchers around the globe.
Why does Stress happen?
The exact reason behind stress is yet to be ascertained. But often it is associated with a series of emotional events leading to ‘fight or flight’. Situational existence, a series of interactions, or a nerve-racking atmosphere can lead a person to stress. Stay on the seashore and you feel relaxing. Stay among a group of people feeling pain and discomfort, you may get into a painful state yourself. If you reach your office and suddenly your boss asks about something that is still pending on your table, the fear of humiliation gives you stress. If you have to meet your deadline and you feel it cannot be met, that results in stress.
What is the Science of Stress?
Scientific researches indicate everything that poses as a challenge or threat is an agent for stress. This is a physical response that threats your psychological balance. This is a psychological factor guided by the sub-conscious brain.
According to a Harvard Medical School, stress is a reflex of the body to protect you from hazards. When you perceive some kind of threat, your central nervous system receives the reflexes and without your awareness, starts flooding in the stress hormones in the circulatory system along with adrenalin and cortisol (a stress hormone). These hormones prepare the body for emergency actions within a second. Such changes enhance your efficiency to handle the issues, increase your concentration, quicken reaction time and prepare you either to fight or flight from the situation.
Stress up to certain point acts as a performance booster
Think of an emergency breaking in order to avoid a collision. How fast do you react? And most of the time it is an instantaneous reaction, isn’t it? But, when stress becomes too much, it affects your normal behavior and working pattern. The driving analogy of Psychologist Connie Lillas is a simple but effective projection of stress response of a human. This is the most common reaction that happen to a person when they are subjected to extreme stress:
Foot on Gas: This is an extreme agitated stress response when you are unable to sit calm.
Foot on Brake: This is a withdrawal stress response when you are depressed a lot and you feel having little energy or interest to do anything. You break the car, stop engine and move out.
Foot on Both: This is an extreme case of stress response when you are frozen and do not know what to do. Your brain freezes and you look paralyzed, but extremely agitated.
Common signs of Stress warning
There are several signs that indicate you are falling into a stress zone. They could be behavioral, emotional, cognitive and physical in symptoms.
Behavioral Signs: Isolation, erratic eating habit, loss of appetite, nail biting, sweating, procrastination, etc. as some of the common signs that reflects in your behavior, withdrawal to a state of denial, loss of confidence, shift in behavioral pattern.
Emotional Signs: Sense of loneliness, depression, short-temper, mood shift, feeling like crying, etc.
Cognitive Indications: Loss of concentration, flushing, facial tics, sweating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, dizziness, aches, cramps, loss of libido and chest pains etc.
Why is Stress Management Necessary?
As often quoted by Management Gurus, Stress Management is a vital requirement for a productive living. Be it in workplace or be it in social life, unceasing stress leads to loss of productivity and lack of interest. Unceasing Stress has severe side effects as well; it deters normal metabolism of human body and people may feel loss of appetite, over-eating, nausea, sleeplessness, constipation and many such irrational symptoms. Often neglected, stress can lead to leads to more grievous threats to heart diseases, blood pressure, renal functions, paranoia, loss of memory and Parkinson’s disease. To avoid such things one has to identify the causes of stress and manage that to least affect his body and soul.
How Meditation can help in Stress Management
Since ancient years, Meditation has been considered as an energy booster and a perfect tool for rejuvenation. This method offers distinct advantage for managing life, boosting and inducing positive energy. The effective practice can lead a man in a path of positivity and offer a perfect sense of relaxation while efficaciously managing stress and associated state of depression.
Meditation yields a surprising number of health benefits and is much effective in handling the stress levels. It improves attention, enhances memory, concentration, and enhances creativity with development of a feeling of compassion.
Scientific Evidence of Effects Of Meditation for Stress Management
Meditation is an art of gathering all essential energy and channelizing it in a particularly desired direction. Meditation is an act of enhancing concentration, an act of feeling deep inner stillness, an act of collecting free energy and gathering them as your internal reserve. Mediation opens your thought process, opens your outlook and offers you a deeper insight to look at the world. This clears your perceptions and clears your attitude to direct your thoughts in a positive notion.
Higher concentration Gyrification: MRI Scan of brain shows a person who meditates enhances the strength of brain by reinforcing the connections among the neurons. People, who meditate, display higher concentration Gyrification (the folding of the cerebral cortex as a result of growth of brain tissues). Through years Scientists believe that the gyrification helps in processing information faster, enhancing memory, and improving attention. Other researches have shown that Meditation helps in increasing the thickness of cortical thickness, which helps in less sensitivity to emotional pain resulting out of severe stress.
Increased Grey matter: A 2009 study revealed that long-term meditation increases the grey matter density in the human brain. The grey matter of brain is often associated with improvisation of emotional, cognitive and immune response. The long effects of meditation has been observed helping the development of frontal volume and enhancement of larger hippocampal of gray matter, which results in positive thoughts, and more mindful behavior and emotional stability. The same study revealed the effect of meditation in improving neuro-protective attributes and thereby affecting aging and lesser levels of stress.
Helps in patients with ADHD and Alzheimers: It is not just the chemical or physical components of the brain that is affected by meditation. Neuro-scientific Studies have revealed that Meditation affects the general functioning of the brain cells. Meditation has been associated with decreased connectivity and default mode network activity which is primarily responsible for lapse of attention, ADHD and built-up of the beta-amyloid in Alzheimer’s.
Increases Alpha, Gamma and Theta Brainwaves: Scientific studies have noted there is a sharp increase in electrical brain activity (neural activity), especially increased Gamma, Theta and Alpha ECG, which are associated with relaxed and more sensible human attentions.
How is it possible to effectively manage Stress level?
Perhaps the most significant achievement of Meditation is the improvement in attention. Even if you do meditation for almost 15 minutes a day and consecutively for 15 days, you can see significant improvement in contemplating thoughts with boost to working memory and sustained attention. Concentration is like a muscle, which has to be strengthened in order to enhance the vulnerability to stress and depression.
A consistent practice of meditation can significantly lower the secretion of resting cortisol (a stress hormone) and thus subjects a person to less stress in any standard conditions.
The National Institute of Health has expressed that meditation can reduce the activities of Sympathetic Nervous System and can effectively emphasize the activities of Parasympathetic Nervous System, thereby reducing excitement and enhancing relaxation and attention. The more you enhance your awareness and attention, the more you are able to control your thought process and react to a particular situation.
You develop a sense of compassion and that soothes your inner disturbances. The state of mental silence you achieve through meditation can make you act quite efficiently for any stressful condition. Practicing meditation can release the level of stress and fill you with positive energy that can help you to overcome limits of stress and resulting depression.