Stress and the Mind-Body Connection

Almost fifty years ago, Dr. Hans Selye developed his now-famous theory about stress and the mind-body connection. He suggested that disease is the body’s inability to deal with mental, emotional or physical stress.

Dr. Selye spent a lifetime researching stress and wrote 30 books and more than 1,500 articles on stress and related problems, including Stress without Distress (1974) and The Stress of Life (1956). Dr. Selye’s research is so profound and life-changing that many authorities refer to him as the “Einstein of medicine.”

Dr. Selye discovered that his patients experienced physiological and psychological distress when faced with danger. Distress is the body’s response to danger or fear. You react to a demand put upon your mind or body. Distress occurs when we prolong emotional stress and don’t deal with it in a positive manner. The body’s response to stress is to adapt or react. This has been called “fight or flight syndrome”

Under stress, our muscles contract, and adrenaline is released into the bloodstream. Our heart begins to beat faster, and our blood pressure increases. We breathe more rapidly, and our metabolism speeds up. To keep cool, we begin to sweat.

Our bodies react this way when faced with stressful situations. Our “fight or flight” response is appropriate if we are in danger, are about to compete, or need to react quickly. The problem arises when tension and energy builds up, and the body does not have time or the opportunity to return to a normal state.

Dr. Leonard Coldwell, a naturopathic doctor from Germany, agrees with Dr. Hans Selye that all illness is caused by a lack of energy. Dr. Coldwell believes that emotional and mental stress is the greatest energy drainer in our lives. Over time, stress wears down the immune system, and causes us to eventually become sick.

To deal with “stress overload,” Dr. Coldwell developed the U-Cure Power Break system. It is a series of three cds that enables you to reduce your stress level and arouse, stimulate and awaken your brain to function at an elevated capacity. By listening to the U-Cure cds for 20 minutes a day, people can condition their minds to create the ideal mental state for peak performance and optimum health.

Using Dr. Coldwell’s U-Cure system involves putting on headphones, turning on your CD player, and closing your eyes. You can either lie down or sit comfortably in a chair. You initially hear five minutes of instrumental music, followed by a 15-minute narrative (with background music) that takes you on a mental vacation.

As you listen, you have the ability to enter a peak mental state where you are relaxed, highly attentive and inwardly focused. In the process, your nervous system benefits from getting regenerated and restored to optimum levels. Your body literally becomes an “oxygen factory” as you inhale deeply, and exhale the stress and tension out of your body. After a session, people report feeling like they’ve awakened from a restful night of sleep.

If all of this sounds “too good to be true,” consider what happens to the body when it is relaxed. For one thing, your blood pressure and heartbeat is lower. You breathe more slowly. Your muscles relax and become less tense. Your anxiety decreases, and you are able to think clearly and productively.

In this state, your body uses less oxygen and expels less carbon dioxide. Your hormones return to a balanced state of equilibrium. As a result, your internal organs work more effectively. Your circulation improves with more blood reaching the extremities of your body. Your muscles become soft and loose, and you become more aware of our body and feelings. Both your mind and body rests in the process of deep relaxation.

The next time you feel stressed, take time out to relax. By relaxing, you have the opportunity to regain the energy you need to think clearly, and develop new and innovative solutions and better manage your life.

Nicky VanValkenburgh