We seem to be experiencing an epidemic of stress- induced illnesses, behaviors, and learning difficulties that are directly related to our inability to properly manage the stress response. In the United states of America each year we consume: 5 billion tranquilizers, 5 billion barbiturates, 3 billion amphetamines, 16 thousand tons of aspirin and that’s barely the tip of the iceberg of medications and substances such as alcohol, nicotine, and other stimulants in an attempt to cope with toxic emotions and their resulting stress. Depression disorders affect a staggering nineteen million adults in the United States of America. Between 75 and 90 percent of all visits to primary-care physicians result from stress-related disorders. The first outcroppings of stress are: tension headaches, digestive-tract problems (stomach, intestines, bowels) and skin eruptions. These conditions just add another layer of stress to the system. If we do not treat the core stress, the symptoms may become chronic and new symptoms arise sleeplessness, weight loss or gain, muscle aches (especially back and leg pain), general lethargy or feelings of exhaustion, sluggish thinking, poor memory, inability to concentrate, weakened immunity, and lack of get-up-and-go or ambition.
The body doesn’t know or care what caused the stress. All the body knows is that it is experiencing stress. Our emotions turn into disease over time according to Dr. Candace Pert, a noted stress researcher. In her research she demonstrated that a certain class of our immune cells—the monocytes have tiny molecules on their surface called neuropeptide receptors that are a perfect fit for neuropeptides. All the monocytes have receptor sites. The brain produces the neuropeptides—which are chains of amino acids—and conducts them along to the nervous system’s cells through out the body. They are like the keys that fit into the molecular locks of every cell of the body. Dr. Pert has called them “bits of brain floating through the body”. The brain “talks” to the immune cells all over the body, and in turn, the immune system”s cells communicate back to the brain, using these messengers called neuropeptides. If your brain interprets physical perception as anger, fear, or depression every cell of your body knows that interpretation very quickly. Stress reactions are the ways in which our bodies process and release both the emotions and the negative physical elements we experience in life.
“In the beginning of my work, I matter-of-factly presumed that emotions were in the head or the brain. Now I would say they are really in the body. No person experiences an emotion just in his “heart” or in his “mind”. Rather, a person experiences an emotion in the form of a chemical reaction in the body and the brain. These chemical reactions occur at both the organ level—stomach, heart, large muscles, and so forth—and at the cellular level.” Dr. Candace Pert
In the 1920’s Dr. Walter Cannon described the fight or flight responses as a stress reaction. The hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine have a dramatic effect on the sympathetic nervous system during periods of intense stress. When a stressful event occurs, the brain perceives the stress and response by triggering the release of specific hormones from the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal gland. The stress response also triggers the adrenal glands to release specific hormones from the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal gland. The stress response also triggers the adrenal glands to release epinephrine, which is also called adrenaline. The sympathetic nerves are located through out the body, even in our organs and tissues, so when they are stimulated, your heart rate increases, your colon is stimulated (which may cause diarrhea), you sweat, your bronchial tubes dilate allowing more oxygen to enter, and so on.
Over time these elevated Levels of adrenaline causes:
* Increased blood pressure
* Elevation in triglycerides
* Elevation in blood sugar
* Elevation in Cholesterol
* Thyroid may be overly stimulated
* Blood may clots faster (plaquing)
Chronically elevated levels of cortisol have been shown to:
• Impair immune function and a faulty immune response has been linked to a wide range of diseases.
• Reduce glucose utilization – a major factor in both diabetes and weight control
• Increases bone loss – which has implications for osteoporosis
• Reduce muscle mass and inhibit skin growth and regeneration-both of which are directly related to strength, weight control, and the general aging process.
• Increased gat accumulation
• Impair memory and learning by destroying brain cells
The perpetual release of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol can sear the body in a way that is similar to acid searing metal. The sad fact is that as a nation, we are starting out overstressed at younger and younger ages. Our young people today are stressed-out even before they get a chance to start out.” Paul Pearsall
There are two key principles related to stress.
Principle #1 is that not all stress is equal. The most damaging emotions are rage, unforgiveness, depression, anger, worry, frustration, fear, grief and guilt.
Principle #2 is that we need to learn how to turn off stress. Chronic stress response is always negative in the long run of life. If a person keeps stuffing toxic emotions year after year, the day will come when those buried emotions come pouring out.
Stress can overload our normal circuitry and blow our “fuses”. Stress lowers the immune system. 94% – 98% of children with dyslexia and learning disabilities had: middle ear infections, allergies, or trauma. Stress is structural, biochemical, environmental, and behavioral. When we are stressed communications between the left and right hemispheres breaks down. When conflicting afferent signals are sent to the central nervous system the person becomes neurologically disorganized. Clinical signs of neurological disorders are reversal of letters and numbers, confusing left and right, saying the opposite of what one means, various difficulties with spatial directions, physical awkwardness or clumsiness, and switching (learning disabilities).
“Stress is the body and mind’s response to any pressure that disrupts their normal balance. It occurs when our perception of events doesn’t meet our expectations and we don’t manage our reaction to the disappointment. Stress—that unmanaged reaction—expresses itself as resistance, tension, strain, or frustration, throwing off our physiological and psychological equilibrium and keeping us out of sync. If our equilibrium is disturbed for long, the stress becomes disabling. We fade from overload, feel emotionally shut down, and eventually get sick.” Doc Childers & Howard Martin
Your body is the living reality of everything you are, and everything you experience happens to all of you, not just to your brain. What can we do to manage stress and save our brain and our health? You can remove the stressor, reduce the stressor, or re-educate yourself in regard to the stressor. In Ephesians 4:6 we read, “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” Maybe this is telling us to manage our stress and allow peace to flow like a river of health. Here are some suggestions for stress management.
* Faith, Hope, and Trust in God
* Relaxation as a form of health treatment
* Deep breathing
* Visualization and Imagery
* Massage (In times of high stress 1 or 2 times a week.)
* Enjoying Music
Brain Gym’s prescriptive movements help eliminate stress in the brain and body allowing the innate intelligence to flow out. These movements have enabled many children and adults who have been identified as dyslexic, ADD, hyperactive or learning disabled to discover and develop their true potential. Subsequent studies published in North America, Germany, Australia, and elsewhere confirmed that the Brain Gym movements produced measurable gains in physical skills, learning skills, and academic performance. Brain Gym is based upon three simple premises:
• Learning is a natural, joyous activity that continues throughout life.
• Learning blocks are the inability to move through the stress and uncertainty of a new task.
• We are all “learning-blocked” to the extent that we have learned not to move.
Many of us have come to accept limitation in our lives as inevitable, and may fail to find the benefits that positive stress can bring. The Brain Gym movements are a natural healthful alternative to tension that we can use and teach others to use when challenges present themselves. The healthy child knows when he or she is stuck, and asks for help by means of his or her behavior. There are no lazy, withdrawn, aggressive, or angry children. Only children denied the ability to learn in a way that is natural to them. The Brain Gym® exercises increase and balance the electrical energy of the neo-cortex, moving it away from the survival reflexes in the brain stem. This allows choice by providing access to reason rather than reaction. The movements increase polarity across cell membranes for more efficient thought, processing and focused attention. Increases oxygen amount and flow to the brain. Though 1/50 of the bodies weight, the brain uses 1/5 of the body’s oxygen supply. When your energies are moving straight up and down each side of your body, like parallel lines you are said to be in a homolateral state and operating at less than 50% efficiency. When you are in a chronic homolateral state you have difficulty getting well and it is difficult to think clearly. You tend toward depression as all of your physical processes slow down. Your senses are less acute. You can’t see, hear, smell, touch, or taste as well as at other times. You feel less alive.
Brain Gym® movements begin to help the client switch from the chronic homolateral state and begin to train the body’s energies to cross over into a cross-lateral state. The cross-lateral state activates sensory and motor cortexes in the parietal lobes, untangle inner chaos, see with a better perspective, focus your mind more effectively, think more clearly, and learn more proficiently. When using Brain Gym you move to move from reaction to reason, think, and learn.
Brain Gym® training gives the client the ability to concentrate, ability to organize, improved self-esteem, self-control, self confidence, academic learning ability, capacity for abstract thought and reasoning, and specialization of each side of the body and the brain. We must feel sate in our body and trust our senses in order to know where we are physically. From this awareness evolves focus and comprehension. As we gain these we begin to feel less stress and gain the ability handle the situations and trials of life. You become the joyful life-long learner you are meant to be.