The Impact of Stress

The Impact of Stress & Stress Management

Persistent reactions to stress can lead to:

  • Health conditions such as high blood pressure, heartbeat irregularities, insomnia, fatigue, digestive disorders, fertility problems, disruption of normal blood sugar control, and psychological dysfunction such as anxiety and depression.
  • Prolonged suppression of the immune system, resulting in high rates of disease, recurrences of latent conditions, and increased susceptibility to cancer.
  • Negative impact on school or work performance.

 In the mid-1970’s, Herbert Benson, a Harvard physician researcher, published The Relaxation Response. Benson’s research gave Western validation to thousands of years of Eastern practices such as meditation and yoga.

In Benson’s studies, individuals achieved a relaxation response by focusing on the repetition of a word, sound, prayer, muscular activity (such as the breath), and passively returning to the object of focus when other thoughts or things intruded.

When done successfully, the relaxation response increases alpha brain wave activity, lowers blood pressure, pulse, respiration rate, metabolic rate, oxygen consumption, anxiety, and produces a greater sense of well-being.

According to Benson, the relaxation response can be consciously evoked, in direct opposition to the “fight or flight” response. It is likely mediated through a combination of neurologic and endocrinologic mechanisms.

The exciting conclusion from Benson’s research is that your mind can cause changes in autonomic responses that were once believed to be out of human control. In other words, we have the capacity to manage the impact of stress.

See bibliography for references