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The Chill Pill For Anxiety

by Rajgopal Nidamboor(more info)

listed in anxiety, originally published in issue 294 - May 2024

 

Originally Published in

https://Indiafirstepaper.com/epaper  – 1st September 2023, Page 42

 

Anxiety is as old as the hills – a part of life too. Excess, or long-term, anxiety is a contributory factor for several disorders – nay a direct cause of illness. It, likewise, albeit paradoxically, motivates us to reach our goals faster. Put simply, anxiety is related to changes that occur in the body when the mind sees a threat, or challenge. The threat can be real, or imaginary. Most changes that occur in the body, due to anxiety, or nervous disquiet, are caused by the release of catecholamines, or chemical messengers, into the blood stream and also nerve impulses. This is, in essence, the raison d’être for the famed ‘fight-or-flight’ response – a survival mechanism.

 

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The ‘fight-or-flight’ principle has certainly served us well for thousands of years, although the form of anxiety, or stress, we encounter today is starkly different from what our ancestors faced. In earlier times, when one identified, or confronted, a deadly monster, they would be all-geared-up in a flash to fight, or flee. When the threat was over, they would return to one’s normal state – in other words, a state of balance.

The types of anxieties, also stressors, we encounter today are, unlike the past, not direct, or physical. The ‘duo’ in our age is more often related to, or caused by psychosomatic, or emotional factors.

So, you may naturally contend that the ‘fight-or-flight’ response of yore may not be quite appropriate to our times? Possibly, yes. Well, the fact also is, you cannot, for instance, admonish your boss, if you don’t agree with their line of thought on any given project, task, or situation.

What’s more, the anxieties, or uneasy pressures, we face today are continual. They are also cumulative. The best part is our body is designed to function and respond adequately to them. At the same time, it is not uncommon for most of us to stay in a continual state of ‘anxious’ readiness. The reason being – many of us are not fully relaxed, or physiologically active to liberate our anxiety levels. This is unlike what used to happen to our ancestors who would release their physical response for a definitive outcome – the end of a battle, or escape from a dangerous creature. On the contrary, the long-term, stressful anxieties that we wrestle with today can trigger high blood pressure, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, muscular disorders, psychological and emotional problems, including immune malfunction.

All of this and more calls not so much for ‘medicated’ action, but mindful meditation, or mindfulness – the other side of the safe, ‘low-or-no-cost’ therapeutic spectrum. The practice, which is primarily based on the relaxation response, reflects the ‘normal’ state to which our forebears would return, soon after overcoming a known hazard. They also achieved calm quickly, because the anxiety of their ‘fight-or-flight’ response with peril was offset by their physical, or bodily, action.

The situation is complex today, although, as the adage goes, you can do your best only when you are relaxed.

Not when you are tense. It is also another thing that most people find it difficult to get the time, or interest, for regular ‘anxiety-reducing,’ or ‘de-stress,’ sessions. Well, the point is– if you don’t ‘fix’ it now, you may have to spare time for illness later.

A recent study published in Journal of the American Medical Association-Psychiatry showed that people who received eight weeks of mindfulness-based interventions experienced a decline in anxiety that matched subjects who were given escitalopram, a common anti-anxiety medication – prescribed under the brand name, Lexapro. A seven-point scale was used to measure anxiety among 208 participants, with a score of 7 representing ‘extreme anxiety,’ and a score of 1 being ‘normal’. The results suggested that the average score after treatment dropped from a moderate-level to a mild-level of anxiety in both the medication and mindfulness groups. The bottom line – when the mind is calm, the body is relaxed and vice versa. This, in turn, powers the immune system and helps repair damaged tissue that emerges in the wake of anxiety.

Mindfulness is a ‘must-do’ practice to dealing with psychological anxiety as much as physical anxieties of everyday life.  When the mind is relaxed, the heart and respiratory rates are slowed down to the point of being ‘steady.’ Our blood pressure is healthy; our muscles are relaxed; our internal organs have adequate supply of blood and nutrients. Our ‘feel-good’ chemicals, or endorphins, which are our natural pain-killers flow with ease when we are relaxed. This gives us a sense of calm and also well-being.

Credit Acknowledgement

Originally Published in

https://Indiafirstepaper.com/epaper  – 1st September 2023 Page 42,

 

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About Rajgopal Nidamboor

Rajgopal Nidamboor PhD FCCP M-CAM is a Board-Certified wellness physician, Fellow of the College of Chest Physicians (FCCP), Member of the Center of Applied Medicine (M-CAM), writer-editor, commentator, critic, columnist, author, and publisher. His special interests include natural health and wellness, mind-body/integrative medicine, nutritional medicine, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality. His focus areas also encompass contemporary research and dissemination of dependable information for people concerned about their health. He feels that it is increasingly gratifying to see most individuals, including physicians, thinking outside the box – especially in areas such as natural health, where the body knows best to heal itself from the inside out. His published work includes hundreds of newspaper, magazine, Web articles, four books on natural health, two coffee-table books, a handful of E-books, a primer on therapeutics, and, most recently, Cricket Odyssey. He’s Chief Wellness Officer, Docco360, a mobile health application/platform, connecting patients with Ayurveda, homeopathic, Unani physicians, and nutrition therapists, among others, from the comfort of their home — and, Editor-in-Chief, ThinkWellness360.  Rajgopal Nidamboor lives in Navi Mumbai, India. He may be contacted via raj@rajnidamboor.com 

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