Fifteen years ago I changed careers and moved from Vermont to Massachusetts. This was one of the most stressful times in my life. My new career had me commuting 4 hours everyday which put a lot of stress on my nervous system and caused me to develop a cardiac arrhythmia. As a result, I was in and out of my local hospital’s ER and ICU. Because I was so sick, I really needed to understand how a stressed out nervous system and the stress reaction cycle can effect your mind, body, and spirit and how mindfulness can help in the healing process.
When we perceive something to be a threat either actual or perceived the hypothalamus and pituitary glands send an ALARM to the adrenal glands.
The biological basis to this system starts in the HYPOTHALAMUS and the PITUITARY GLANDS. These two things try to maintain homeostasis in the body. Some things they help regulate are: blood pressure, heart rate, mood, metabolism, and sleep.
The adrenal glands play a part in keeping the body in homeostasis as well. However, this is the part of the body that can set off the ALARM system so we can fight or flight in a situation that is too threatening. This process activates the SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM. Many of us live in a very sympathetic nervous system state.
What happens to our body’s when we live here is that our body’s start to break down. Too much external stress leads to internal dis ease in the body. Internal dis ease in our body can be cardiovascular, autoimmune, nervous system, and immune system.
This then can lead to MALADAPTIVE coping. A lot of people end up trying to cope with all this stress by engaging in destructive behaviors such as overworking, hyperactivity, overeating, consuming more alcohol, drug, cigarettes and caffeine.
Then what happens is the body starts breaking down even more and people may start to feel physical and psychological exhaustion, loss of drive, depressed, anxiety, panic, heart attack, cancer, and genetic predispositions.
Practicing mindfulness, meditation, yoga, exercise, eating healthy whole foods can help to relieve the body of all this stress. During this time in my life I incorporated all of the above. By practicing this I was activating the PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM which naturally works at calming the body down. As a result of this practice my cardiac arrhythmia became under control and has not been a problem in years.
By changing your thoughts and practicing mindfulness, meditation, as well as yoga, you activate the healing chemicals in your body. These chemicals not only heal your body and mind, they also heal the very ESSENCE of you. They heal the very SPIRIT and SOUL that lives within in you. You can HEAL your mind, body, and spirit by the thoughts you choose to think. Be happy everyday. Saturate your mind in HAPPY, LOVING, JOYFUL, HARMONIOUS, thoughts and you will HEAL!
Melissa Samartano, PhD., LMHC, RYT