03.14.11

Counteract Stress

Posted in Wellness at 2:21 PM by Dr. Greathouse


Count Your Blessings

What does counting your blessings mean and does it do any good?

Counting your blessings is also a form of what is called self-affirmation, positive mental imagery, or reflecting on personal values. Oprah calls this her Gratitude List!

Over the years, multiple scientific studies on this topic have been performed and the verdict is that it does do a body good.

Stress is anything that promotes change in our body. We are all faced with stress on a daily basis, physical, mental and biochemical. Not all stress is bad, however, it becomes detrimental when overwhelming or persistent in some form or fashion. Additionally, it is not always conscious level; stress detrimentally affects us on a subconscious level as well.

One of the biochemical changes associated with stress is suppression of the immune system via a “stress hormone” called cortisol. Cortisol is not unhealthy unless it is overproduced, for too long, in which case it makes us more susceptible to infection or poor healing. It’s thought that chronic stress, conscious or subconscious plays a major role in our health. One stressful event is said to produce the release of 14,000 chemicals and 30 hormones in the body.

The literature is replete with the negative effect of stress on our bodies. The Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research, under the National Institute of Health, lists some of the biological effects of stress; heart disease, heart attacks, delay in growth and development in children, predisposition to type 2 diabetes, elevated lipid levels, depressed immunity, learning and memory disorders, advanced aging, poor wound healing, reactivation of latent virus infection such as herpes and weight gain. Of course the most common symptoms associated with stress are muscle tension, fatigue, and achy pain, along with a multitude of others.

Stress stimulates the part of the autonomic (automatic) nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system; better recognized as the fight or flight response to danger or perceived danger. The counter part is called the parasympathetic nervous system or the calming, relaxing part of the autonomic nervous system. The parasympathetic part can be stimulated by various techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, mental imagery and self-affirmation (counting you blessings).

Science has shown that these techniques help counteract & reduce the bad biochemistry of stress and actually promote the good biochemistry of well-being. Thus, reducing the signs & symptoms associated with stress and reducing predisposition to the diseases associated with stress.

Considering the amount of stress we are all under on a regular basis, it makes sense to practice these techniques on a regular daily basis.

Make a list of anything you can think of that has positive meaning in your life, even if as simple as spitting a watermelon seed the farthest; list all your positive virtues and values and read it to yourself daily.  Studies show we recall and subconsciously harbor negative thoughts a multitude more than we do positive thoughts, therefore, repeated positive self-affirmation is needed to counterbalance the negative.

  • This keeps stress and the negative effects of stress at bay! It really does!


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