We are a society of perfectionists and are increasingly obsessed with productivity and efficiency. We buy new phones, new computers, and every other gadget under the sun in an effort to get more done.

But the only thing we’re getting is more exhausted and more stressed.

In today’s article we’ll talk more about the causes of stress, how stress affects the body, and offer a few tips for lowering your stress levels — including meditation.

Let’s dive in.

What is stress?

After a long day at work when you still have to pick up the kids and figure out what’s for dinner, you can feel it: the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You’re stressed.

But physiologically, what is stress and how does it affect your body?

Think of your body like a seesaw that wants to stay balanced. Stress, whether it’s caused by illness or mental anguish, throws that seesaw out of whack. Your body will release hormones, like cortisol, in an effort to get things back into balance.

Unfortunately, when stress isn’t resolved, the body’s natural and healthy reaction becomes the opposite: unhealthy and potentially dangerous. Hormone imbalances can have profound effects on your health.

Symptoms of stress

This stress reaction can manifest physically in the form of symptoms like:

  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • High blood pressure
  • Pressure or tightness in the chest
  • Impotence
  • Sleep disorders

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Stress: The silent killer

Recent research has even led scientists to believe that stress can kill you! Many of the most common causes of death in America are thought to be linked to stress:

  • Suicide
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Cancer

How does stress affect the body? It’s important to think of your body Wholistically. Think of your body like a still mountain lake. Imagine throwing a big rock into that lake. The rock represents stress and the ripples spread throughout.

When your body is “under attack” by stress, hormones and your immunes system mount a response. This response creates a negative feedback loop — more stress leads to a greater immune response, which results in a weaker immune system and more stress. On and on it goes. Unless you break the destructive cycle of stress, you’re headed down a dark and dangerous path.

Avoid self-medication

Many people simply don’t understand how to handle stress in a way that’s healthy. They’ve been raised to simply ignore the stress or even worse to turn to self-destructive habits to deal with stress like:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Emotional eating
  • Extreme exercise
  • Consuming too much caffeine
  • Compulsive shopping
  • Self-sabotage and isolation

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Slow down to speed up

You can live a healthy, happy, and productive life without stress.

But just like anything worth doing, it will take work. However, it will be worth it.

If you’ve never tried it before, you’ll be amazed at the difference just 15 minutes a day of meditation can make in your life.

Benefits of meditation

Meditation has been practiced the world over for more than 5,000 years! Only recently has it been studied by modern medicine — but the science is there! Meditation has been shown to:

  • Reduce stress — and the stress hormone cortisol
  • Lower blood pressure and heart rate
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Trigger relaxation and rejuvenation
  • Begin the anti-aging process

Above all else, meditation will simply make you feel better.

Meditation: how to get started

There’s nothing magic about meditating. You simply have to commit the time to it and focus. Watch this short video to learn a few simple tips to get started:

My advice for beginning meditation enthusiasts:

  1. Make meditation part of your morning or evening ritual
  2. Take deep breaths
  3. Use aromatherapy
  4. Eliminate distractions — no screens, no phone calls, and no interruptions
  5. Don’t be hard on yourself — there’s no wrong way to meditate!

Let’s talk about your health

Have you already made meditation part of your wellness? You might be surprised to learn the role that your dental health can play in how your body feels and functions. Schedule an appointment at Green Dentistry to talk more about the Wholistic connection between mouth, body, and health.