Friday, April 27, 2007

Fear, Stress and Health

Today's Featured Article

by Donna L. Watkins

It's everywhere online, in the news, on the television. Research is linking our thoughts and emotions to disease. How we react to our environment and the boundaries we do or do not set on ourselves affect the outcome of our health. In many ways, we are a sum total of what we think because every action is preceded by a thought.

Many of us have based our belief systems on what we learned in childhood. Some of that is good since many good character qualities are learned in childhood, such as sharing, giving, honesty, respect for authority, etc.

What about beliefs that were formed because of an assumption and not a life lesson taught like a character quality would be. As children we do not understand the big picture and we make assumptions in our minds that are mostly untrue. We have belief systems that determine our behavior and stress levels based on one event in childhood. Those are the things that need to be reevaluated in the light of adulthood and true wisdom and knowledge.

Maybe you had a teacher that told you your science project was awful, and you determined then that you wouldn't stretch your imagination and creativity to share with the world because what you assumed was a bright idea was evaluated as lousy. Unknowingly, you've allowed that one event, in a moment of time, to change the course of your life. You may have been created to invent many things. It may be a gift inside of you that God gave you when you were born. Do you want to leave all of that behind just because a teacher was maybe having a bad day, or expected a higher grade level of expertise than the grade she/he was teaching.

What are your fears? Trace them back to the events in your life that planted the seed for them. Evaluate the situation as an adult with an ability to see more of the big picture. You have hidden talents and gifts to offer the world. The devil begins early to destroy the special you inside. God gave you specific gifts that will bring you and others joy. They may be hidden inside you in a cellar, but with the Holy Spirit's help and insight you can search for and seek them and claim them as yours.

Much of the stressful lifestyles of today are created from bad situations in childhood. Families that were scattered here and there without enough time for nurturing. Advertising that tells you that beauty comes from a product, not from within. Those people you see in ads that look so perfect do not look that way in the morning when they get up. You can do many things with camera and film, so you are not seeing the real thing. Nobody was made perfect other than Jesus Christ and that wasn't based on His outward appearance.

We can be healthier by filling our lives with joy and laughter that God has promised in His Word. Our world is much too focused on performance, deadlines and a drive to over-compete. The only thing that will matter in the end is whether or not you have pleased our Father. All other works will burn up.

If you don't think it's important to take time to laugh, research is proving it's very important. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have shown that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels. Laughter appears to cause the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow.

This study was done using laughter-producing movies to gauge the affect of emotions on cardiovascular health. When the same group of volunteers was shown a movie that produced mental stress, the blood vessel linings developed a response called vasoconstriction, reducing blood flow. That finding confirms previous studies, which suggested there was a link between mental stress and the narrowing of blood vessels.

Our attitude about life really does matter! Our thoughts control hormone release and digestive juices and enzymes. It matters what we think about and whether we can laugh at life's continual challenges. What can you do different to make yourself more at peace with the world and life. What fears from childhood can you leave behind by shedding the light of today on them? Seek God on it and renew your mind!

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