Both the gut flora and the brain are adversely affected by continuous stress. The body needs time to recover. According to research, meditation is an effective way of lowering your heart rate.
If you were to constantly run your food mixer, or your car, at full speed, both machines would wear out faster. Being on top of your game simply takes a toll. Not least for us humans. We need to pause, relax and release stress and pressure in order to stay healthy. If you and I were zebras on the savannah, and a lion suddenly appeared, feeling stressed would be a natural response. It would make us alert and hopefully save our lives. Once in safety, our stress levels would naturally decrease and we would have recovered before the next dangerous situation.
We humans are fortunate enough not to have to deal with too many lions on a daily basis, but many of us still live very stressful lives. Instead of wild dangerous animals, we are faced with a busy schedule and a complicated life puzzle, with constant stress as a result, which wears us out. It has been shown that both the brain and the gut flora are adversely affected by excessive exposure to stress and insufficient periods of recovery. When our stress levels are high, the body perceives danger and our fight-or-flight response kicks in. The body then shifts its focus away from important functions such as digestion and intestinal function. This is fine if it happens occasionally, but constantly experiencing high levels of stress leads to diseases. Research has shown that the brain takes a beating from stress as well, if you don’t give yourself sufficient time to recover, which affects learning, memory and speeds up aging.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to relieve the body of stress. Research has shown that a daily meditation practice can lower stress levels and have a positive health impact after only a couple of weeks. Taking continuous breaks from the tasks you engage in throughout the day can reduce the secretion of the stress hormones that can cause imbalance in the gut flora and will calm your stomach. There are quite simply many good reasons for creating pleasant moments that lower your heart rate. Do you often feel stressed? And what does recovery mean for you? Reflect on that and try to find your own method for relaxing. Reflecting on your personal stress levels, and then trying to find moments of relaxation, can have a beneficial effect on your general health.
Meditation is a proven way to induce states of relaxation and well-being. People have been meditating for over 5,000 years and there are currently many different methods for creating presence and relaxation. There are those who say that our even more distant ancestors benefited from meditation when they sat and gazed into the campfire. In any case, relaxation is important. Not least in 2020.
Kuo, B., Bhasin, M., Jacquart, J., Scult, M. A., Slipp, L., Riklin, E. I., . . . Denninger, J. W. (2015). Genomic and Clinical Effects Associated with a Relaxation Response Mind-Body Intervention in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Plos One,10(4). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123861
Luders, E., Kurth, F., Mayer, E. A., Toga, A. W., Narr, K. L., & Gaser, C. (2012). The Unique Brain Anatomy of Meditation Practitioners: Alterations in Cortical Gyrification. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6. doi: 10.3389 / fnhum.2012.00034