Stress and Emotions

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you [St. Augustine’s Confessions].

More Hormones, Please
Hormones, from Greek, hormon, “that which sets in motion,” are chemical messengers that carry information-laden signals between cells. Hormones travel through the bloodstream to accelerate or suppress metabolic functions, including mood and metabolism.

Hormone secretion are triggered by internal or external stimuli. The pituitary and adrenal glands are endocrine glands that respond to emotional and physical stress by secreting hormones into the blood system.

Stress, emotions and changes in fluids and minerals can affect the action of some hormones, such as those produced in the pituitary. Some of these hormonal processes last only milliseconds.

Clinical studies have shown that fasting is¬†effective in lowering blood pressure and treating chronic pain like migraine or arthritis. Neurobiologists at Gttingen University have shown that when patients fast, stress hormones levels go down and serotonin levels rise (which may explain the “fasting high” many patients report). Stefan Theil [Newsweek. (International ed.). New York: Oct 30, 2006].

Stress and Immune System
When a person sits to watch television, emotional prodding takes place frequently throughout the programing. These stimuli are comparable to false alarms that call into action internal fire departments throughout the body.

Ohio State University researchers found that stress from engaging in a memory task activated the immune system, whereas the stress from passively watching a violent video weakened immunity (as measured by salivary concentration of SIgA, a major immune factor) [Psychophysiology, September-October 2001].

Imagine being frightened, shocked, thrilled and sexually aroused twenty to thirty times by a few hours of nightly media “entertainment.” Now, add work, family and other social stressors, and the excessive stimulations we experience become obvious

Stress of Fasting
Fasting causes considerable stress but, as with physical exercising, we consciously monitor and controlled it. The stressors produced by fasting are supervised by the fasting person and anticipated. The stress comes at your own pace.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you [Lao Tzu].


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