How stress and terrorism affect election behaviour

The original article that I contributed to was published online in the APA Science section, the  Austrian magazine Profil and in the Tiroler Tageszeiting under the title: Wie sich Stress und Terrorängste auf das Wahlverhalten auswirken. (From APA: 22. 4. 2017)

Several studies provide evidence of benefits for right-wing populists.

The final round of the French presidential election campaign is being overshadowed by a terrorist attack. Scientific research over the last few years provides several indications that right-wing populists and politicians who rely on anxiety gaps can benefit from such a climate.

“It is obvious that psychological stress plays an important role in political decision-making” 

US psychologists found from a study during the Al-Aqsa intifada in Israel that individuals who are personally exposed to political violence react with fear and also adjust their political views accordingly. The results of their research provide “solid indications” for the assumption that “terrorism leads to non-democratic attitudes that threaten minority rights.” According to the study by Daphna Canetti-Nisim (1) and her colleagues it is obvious that psychological stress plays an important role in political decision-making

However, Anna Getmansky (2) from the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and Thomas Zeitzoff from the Department of Politics at New York University suggest that the mere threat of terrorism has already an impact on election behaviour. They investigated the impact of Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on four Israeli elections from 2001 to 2009. “Our results show that the right-wing share of votes were two to six percentage points higher in those areas within the range of missiles.”

“We have found that greater liberalism is associated with increased volume of grey matter in the anterior cingulate cortex“

It seems that anxiety tends to benefit right-wing conservative and authoritarian political forces. In 2011, a researcher from the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience found out that the political attitude also manifests itself in our brain structures: “We have found that greater liberalism is associated with increased grey matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, while conservatism with a increased volume of the right amygdala “, writes study author Ryota Kanai (3).

The researchers also assume that political orientation also expresses how people deal with anxiety and insecurity. Persons with a larger amygdala are considered to be more sensitive to fear and therefore would rather integrate conservative views into their belief system. On the other hand, the increased importance of the anterior cingulate cortex could be associated with greater tolerance against uncertainty and conflict. Although their data could not determine a causal link, they do reveal a link between brain structures and psychological mechanisms that are expressed in political attitudes.

A connection between conspiracy theories and stress has also been scientifically researched. Psychologists (4) from the University of Cambridge found out in 2016: The more people are under psychological pressure, the more vulnerable they are to conspiracy theories. Authoritarian attitudes are also associated with perceived social threats: those who feel latently threatened are more willing to limit the basic freedoms of others.

At the same time, stressed voters seem to be the ones who are most likely to stay away from the elections – a finding that is particularly relevant to the US and its low electoral participation. A researcher of psychologists and political scientists around Jeffrey A. French (5) from the University of Nebraska-Omaha discovered in 2011 that people who had the highest level of stress hormone cortisol most likely did not vote.

“Populists talk with the people on the level of fear, with their words, their gestures, with everything they have” 

The Brussels Osteopath and anti-stress expert Tom Meyers has looked at all these research results. Tom got interested in the reasons for this rise in right-wing populism, especially after the election of the right-wing populist and republican Donald Trump to US president and seeing the rise of populist parties in his own home country Belgium, in the Netherlands, but also in Austria.

”Populists talk to people on the level of fear, with their words, their gestures, with everything they have,” says Meyers. Stress is always limiting people. “In stress one thinks only of oneself. Everything outside becomes dangerous.” This is a normal protective function of the body (instinct) that is out to survive: Because for example if a car is approaching and you’re in the middle of the road (stress), one should not think too long about others.

Stress is an adaptive response to protect the body (no body no mind). People believe that they always act rationally. In fact, biological processes such as stress changes the way you think and behave: “We underestimate how strongly the body, neuro-hormonal systems affect our behaviour and our way of thinking,” (matter over mind) says Meyers.

contributor

References

(1) D. Canetti-Nisim, et al. (2009). A New Stress-Based Model of Political Extremism: Personal Exposure to Terrorism, Psychological Distress, and Exclusionist Political Attitudes. J Conflict Resolut. 2009 Jun; 53(2): 363–389. doi:  10.1177/0022002709333296

(2) A. Getmansky and T. Zeitzoff (2014). Terrorism and Voting: The Effect of Exposure to Rockets on Voting in Israeli Elections. American Political Science Association 108(03):588-604. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055414000288

(3) R. Kanai, et al. (2011). Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults. Current  Biology. 2011 Apr 26; 21(8): 677–680. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.017

(4) V. Swami, et al. (2016). Putting the stress on conspiracy theories: Examining associations between psychological stress, anxiety, and belief in conspiracy theories. Personality and Individual Differences vol. 99 , Pages 72–76. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.04.084

(5) J. A. French, et al. (2014). Cortisol and politics: Variance in voting behaviour is predicted by baseline cortisol levels. Physiology & Behaviour vol 133, 61–67 DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.05.004

The original German article:

https://science.apa.at/rubrik/politik_und_wirtschaft/Wie_sich_Stress_und_Terroraengste_auf_das_Wahlverhalten_auswirken/SCI_20170421_SCI40111351035624716

https://www.profil.at/shortlist/wissenschaft/stress-terror-aengste-wahlverhalten-studie-8090749

http://www.tt.com/home/12887585-91/wie-sich-stress-und-terrorängste-auf-das-wahlverhalten-auswirken.csp

Advertisements

TedX Brussels Interview

I was kindly asked for an interview by TEDx Brussels to give my ideas about the Deeper Future and this to complement their full speaker program to which I hope to be invited to one day 😉

“This is no Joke”: Stress in the Deeper Future

Photo+by+Bibbi+Abruzzini

Photo by Bibbi Abruzzini

“Did you know that stress shrinks your brain? This is no joke,” says Tom Meyers, an Osteopath and Stress Coach who works with patients suffering from work-related stress. TEDxBrussels interviews Meyers to understand how to cope with our high-pressure world and the unnecessary stress we experience multiple times per day.

1. Why has stress become such a problem for our health, relationships and economy? 

First, lets look at what stress is. Stress is an autonomic biological survival response resulting from a near-instantaneous sequence of neurological, hormonal and physical changes to protect the body from danger.

The changes involved in a stress response, often referred to as the ‘fight and flight response’, are various. They might cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and the hormones adrenalin and cortisol. At the same time the immune response is inhibited, digestion slowed down, libido suppressed, and heart rate variability decreases.

Unfortunately this response hasn’t had an update since prehistoric times. The stress response was a great bio-defense mechanism for when we were facing physical threats. However, it is not so apt to the psychosocial challenges that our society faces today – excessive workloads, deadlines, poor management, information overload and so on. Our biology hasn’t been able to update itself to face the new environmental stressors and here lies our first challenge.

The second challenge is that these new stressors are more chronic in nature. The kind and duration of stressors we face have changed but not the stress response itself. The consequence is that the body finds itself having less and less time to relax, recuperate and regenerate.  In the RRR-mode our immune response is boosted, digestion and libido is turned up, and heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension are reduced, and hormone levels rebalanced and heart rate variability increases.

Did you know that stress shrinks your brain? This is no joke. Increased levels of cortisol changes the vascular flow and glucose distribution in certain parts of your brain like the hippocampus which is related to memory, and the prefrontal cortex which is implicated with consciousness, personality, decision making and social behaviour. No wonder there is an increase in depression and burnout.

A third challenge is that it seems that we’ve forgotten that we’re humans. Being human comes with a body and that body has different needs than our mind. We’re mind-driven and never think if our body can handle the objectives set by our mind. I call this the “copy-pasting” phenomenon. For example some people are always active and go as far as feeling a sort of guilt when they‘re not doing something. Yet the body’s biological design is one where action needs to makes way for relaxation in order to recuperate and regenerate. On top of that when we do take time to relax we tend to make the wrong choices. The example that I give in presentations is of someone saying “I’m going to relax this evening and watch a horror movie”… What!?

We are living in a culture where health promoting behaviour has become – unbelievable but true – inappropriate. An example: no one questions a smoker taking a cigarette break but when a non-smoker takes a break for some fresh air he or she feels often guilty, stigmatised. Do you recognize this?

To sum this up in one simple phrase: we’re facing a conflict between biology and culture and it makes us sick, costing society billions and more it is killing us.

But now comes the question, is biology to blame?

2. How do you help people around the world to reduce the pain of stress? 

My health practice, presentations and workshops are based on three pillars: To help you – to help you help yourself – to help you, help yourself and others.

As an Osteopath and Stress Coach for Body & Mind I help people by allowing the body to “reset” and return to ease. My patients initially came to me to treat physical aliments, gradually experiencing great improvements in terms of how they dealt with stress, clarity of mind and decision making. Overall they felt lighter, as if a weight had been lifted from their body and mind. Now 10 years and 2 clinical trials later I’ve been able to demonstrate that the approach I have developed has indeed an effect on both body and mind. It results in a reduction of perceived musculoskeletal pain, anxiety, stress and an increase in heart rate variability.

Research, combined to personal experience, has given me plenty of insights. With the rise of the information age we’ve become disconnected and less socially conscious. We have forgotten that we are simultaneously a whole and a part of a larger society. It is time to go back to the future, retrace our steps and come to terms again with what it means to be human.  With such understanding we can lay new foundations to grow and thrive instead of merely survive. And believe me when I say that thriving is easier than you think if you don’t let yourself stand in the way.

3. Why is managing stress important in the context of the Deeper Future? 

Our society will face extra challenges ranging from global warming to terrorism; as a result, stressors will increase whether we like it or not.

We are already suffering. To put that suffering in figures: here in Belgium alone 1.1 million or 10% of the population takes antidepressants, 13.5 million boxes of sleeping pills are sold a year, 1 in 4 employees and 1 in 5 doctors are at risk of burn-out and the cost of sick workers exceeds that of the cost of unemployment.

If we don’t start to do something today, individuals will become more self-centred, anxious, depressed, burned-out, tense – and less creative, less intelligent, less social, less tolerant. The risk is that over time we will wipe ourselves out.

To thrive again in the face of change…

a good start is understanding and managing stress.

This improvement is accessible to all and has been proven to yield good results in a very short spam of time. One step at a time, we can make the changes needed to transform the world. Every individual must become a change agent instead of getting stuck in the ‘Que Sera, Sera’ mindset . A deeper, more meaningful and mindful future is in our hands. It is a choice that must be translated into action.

4. What is your vision of the Deeper Future? 

Despite the challenges we are going to face, I’m still very optimistic about the future. However, more and more people are asking questions, driven by the feeling that we can’t go on living like this. As a response, we are witnessing an increase in co-creation living and work spaces, complimentary therapies as well as documentaries shedding light on the obscure hunting our world.

I experience this every day in my work as a health practitioner and public speaker. People are seeking to live a more meaningful life and are realising that health is essential to realizing their dreams. More and more people are willing to spend time and money to re-take health in their own hands. We are calibrating our minds, getting ready for a higher level of being where less is more. The Deeper Future is… bright! However, how bright it will be depends on our health and how “light” we’ll become.

TomTom Health Navigator

Interview published on the TedX Brussels Blog: TedXBrussels.eu

Health Awareness Week

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 31 March 2014

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to this weeks episode of Health Matters.

On the 7th of April The World Health Organisation celebrates it’s World Health Day.
This year the WHO will blow out 66 candles and although it has done some great work over the years it faces big new challenges.

Challenges like work related stress that is effecting 1 in 4 employees and is associated with the increase in conditions like back pain, anxiety, depression and burnout.

But what is health? Obvious as it may seem but have you ever asked yourself this question?

On radio x we’re going to do just that. Next week from the 7th till the 11th of April Radio X is organising the Health Awareness Week.

Health Awareness Week Radio X

A week where various therapists will be interviewed or come to the studio to talk about health.

However health is about all of us so we’re hoping to hear from you too. Want to contribute to the Health Awareness Week then keep tuning in to Radio X and also interact with us on our Facebook page and maybe you’ll win one of the various consultations at Osteo & Co in Woluwe, Brussels.

To get you in the mood for the Health Awareness Week lets see how health currently is defined by the World Health organisation.

According to the WHO, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Infirmity meaning physical or mental weakness.

This definition was adopted at the birth of the organisation in 1948 and hasn’t been amended since.

However what I wonder about is – is health a state? A state meaning a particular condition that someone is in at a specific time?

I rather see health as a dynamic process that adapts itself constantly. You are not the same in the morning then in the afternoon or evening. When you’re facing mental or physical challenges health must be balanced in a different way then when you’re lying on the beach.

Health what is it? What does it need? Is the idea you have of what health is, in alignment with what your biology dictates what health is?

All questions that we need to reflect on and that will be addressed in the Health Awareness Week here on Radio X and no I don’t presume that will find the ultimate answers but I sincerely hope it will contribute to reflection and hopefully some aha moments.

We on Radio X will start the dialogue but hope you will carry it on to your family, friends and colleagues as Health Matters today.

I’m Tom Meyers Stress Coach for Body & Mind have a great week and hope to hear from you during the Health Awareness Week.

For more information on my work or if you have a question go to www.tommeyers.be

Move it… but low impact.

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X  from 13 January 2013

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to a new season of Health Matters.  In Health Matters I take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges to our health and wellbeing Stress.

This week I’m going to get you moving.

That exercise relieves stress probably doesn’t come as  a surprise to you but did you know that the long-term effects of daily exercise can be a powerful antidepressant more effective than any antidepressant drugs on the market?

The question you will ask off-course is how much exercise and what type? Well that depends on you? Are you a sportive person or not? How long have you been inactive? Too much too quick and you’ll become discouraged because you can’t keep it up or get injuries. So set yourself a realistic goal.

As time goes, it is better 5 minutes now and then then a 1h work-out if stress relieve is what you seek. This can be a walk around the block, cycling to work or to the shop. It doesn’t have to be sport? It is about moving. Taking the time to stretch those legs and move those arms.

Gardening, walking the dog, playing with your children, taking an elderly person for a walk a couple of times a week can all be seen as exercise, even cleaning if it is done with a certain vigour and heart.

The mistake many people make is to sit all day in the office stressing out but then to compensate go for a good hard run in the evening? The purpose of exercise is to relax, to lower the sympathetic tone of your autonomic nervous system and increase the relaxation response.

Stress heightens your heart rate, blood pressure, breath rate with all the adverse effects that has and that I’ve talked about before on Health Matters. So imagine that when your heart rate and blood pressure has been high all day and you on top of that go and strain your body more with a good challenging run… you’re putting the pressure on even more… that can be a recipe for a heart attack or stroke… and unfortunately it is more common then you think.

Oh you don’t like exercise, you think it’s boring then the solution can be to make a mind shift and see it as transport from A to B and walk and cycle as much as you can to go to the shop, work or for any reason you need to get around. Leave that car behind if you have to get somewhere within a radius of say less then 5 km away. Get a decent backpack with waist strap that can hold some groceries and a few 1.5l bottles or something that you think you’ll need to make that exercise – shopping or trip to work practical and more enjoyable.

So in short regular 5 minutes of low intensity exercise decreases stress. Best is what scientist call green exercise meaning exercise that takes you outdoors.

  • Short sessions are better then 1 long one
  • Take the time as time doesn’t come to you.
  • Find something that gets you moving that you know you enjoy.

The benefits over time are improved heart rate variability, lower heart rate and blood pressure, increase in willpower and resilience. In general improved health and wellbeing.

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress coach for body & mind and contributor of thought more joyful and healthy way of living. For more information on Health Matters go to the website tommeyers.be

How to make those resolutions stick

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X  from 06 january 2014

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to another episode of Health Matters. In Health Matters I take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges to our health and wellbeing STRESS.

This week I like to talk about how to make those health resolutions you made over the last two weeks stick.

I sincerely hope that with the insights I shared with you last year that some of your resolutions include health and health promoting behavior.

In fact recommended for making your goal stick is to choose just one resolution. One challenge that you like to take on your journey and that you can focus on fully and what is more important then health?.

Resolutions are changes of things you’re not so happy about and always go hand and hand with conflict. On a bad day when you have too many conflicts with your resolutions on top of the daily challenges you are more prone to fall into the bad habits again and that needless to say creates negative emotions and stress.

So to avoid that choose 1 firm resolution.

Other steps to success are the following:

Be realistic: Choose a resolution that is challenging but don’t put your goals to high either.

Get support: Although they are personal talk to someone about it. Get a support partner or circle of people that can help you and on who you can count on to help you back on track. Talk to them about your journey and discuss how they can help you in the process.

Learn a Reaset breathing exercise or practice a meditation technique: Changes and challenges are stressful and thus the body is always involved. Reducing stress levels in your body therefore is essential as it will help you to focus, handle distractions and temptations better. They will also help you to master your fears and moments of anxiety that you surely will face in the course of your journey. In a nutshell it will help increase your willpower and you surely will need that.

Get a notebook: Write down your goal, why you want this change, what the benefits are in the long run and what the pitfalls are. To go deep into quest behind the question use the 5 why’s iterative question approach. Which is when you’ve written down your answer to the first question ‘Why you do this’… to ask ‘why’ again in response to the answer you’ve given and after that Why again and so on 5 times? This way you really determine the root motivation. After that you could also add what the benefit could be for others? Your family, friends, colleagues? Try to see the bigger picture.

Willpower workout. Like training to run a marathon, or learning how to play an instrument changing a habit, implementing health promoting behavior or increasing your willpower it is all about repetition and to keep on practicing and expecting that some days it will be difficult.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

I’m Tom Meyers stress coach for body and mind and contributor of thought to a healthier and more joyful living.

Enjoying Health Matters then share the episodes with your family and friends by going to the radiox.eu website or visit my website tommeyers.be

Stress: Conflict between biology and culture

Aside

Together Magazine #43 Nov 2013

Article by Tom Meyers

Together Magazine: November 2013

Stress, what is it? Why has stress become such a nuisance? What can I do about it These three questions are pertinent when you look at some recent health statistics:

  • In 2011 stress levels increased by 48% according to a global business survey
  • 70 to 95% of all illnesses are related to stress
  • 1.1 million Belgians use antidepressants
  • In 2011, 13,5 million boxes of sleeping pills were sold in Belgium
  • 1 in 4 Belgian employees is at risk of burn-out

Why has stress become such a problem for your health, relationships and our economy?

What is stress?

An instinctive biological survival response Stress is an autonomic response to stressors, resulting in biological changes that have an impact on your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Stressors are a wide range of stimuli from thoughts to arguments, emails or phone calls to traffic, work or environmental pollution. Stressors activate the sympathetic nervous system, the section of your autonomic nervous system that makes you alert, that tells you to fight or flee in order to protect you from danger. While this system is activated, the parasympathetic nervous system – which is all about relaxation, recuperation and regeneration (in other words it’s the rest and healing module) – is inhibited.

Why has stress become a nuisance?

Stress is the conflict between biology and culture I invite you to have a look around you and notice the tools and gadgets you’re surrounded with in your office or at home. Why did we make all of these fabulous things? Wasn’t it so you had more time to relax, make life easier? However, what are you doing with the time given to you: work, check emails, sit on the sofa and watch TV, or rush around? What’s your pace of life and lifestyle? Do you work longer hours, move less often, worry more? Is there still time for you to unwind, to let your body recuperate and regenerate from the efforts it has been through and replenish its resources? A cheetah can run at 100 km per hour but only for 30 seconds. It can only pull off an effort like that twice a day and to be able to do that it needs to rest for the rest of the day to recover. How much time do you spent recovering? Or do you feel guilty as so many of us do when we’re doing or seem to be doing nothing? A client told me she could not take time out from working to practice a three-minute breathing exercise three times a day. She looked at me as if I was from another planet when I asked her why she didn’t go outside with the smokers when they went on their breaks? She said: “Oh, no I couldn’t do that, what would they think of me?” I was dumbfounded. Smokers are encouraged to go for a walk, to go outside and they take time-out, albeit breathing in polluted air. To go out and breathe fresh air for health reasons has become unacceptable behaviour!? How did things get this way? Why do we feel guilty when we’re doing nothing, even though it is an essential part of healthy behaviour? Stress has become a nuisance. Seen from a biological perspective there is no longer naturally occurring means of stimulating relaxation, regeneration and recuperation. We are always ‘switched on’, in a fight or in flight even when there is no immediate danger. This leads to a chronic increase in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate and muscle tensions – especially in neck, back and shoulders. It reduces blood flow to your stomach and digestive system, lowers immunity, makes you more on edge and anxious, lowers your concentration levels and creativity – to name but a few. Over time, chronic stress can lead to depression and burn-out. And all the while that sympathetic nervous system is active, your parasympathetic nervous system (your healing system) is defective.

Stress, what can you do about it?

Take a break and reaset to return to ease Here are some useful tips: 1: Breathe in for five seconds followed by five seconds of breathing out by letting go of the breath. Repeat this exercise for three minutes, three times a day. 2: Same breathing exercise but now while breathing slowly feel a sense of wellbeing within you. For example imagine the sun warms your body and feel the sensation within. 3: Same breathing exercise while holding (not rubbing) the temples 4: Take time to walk around after 90 minutes working behind the computer. 5: Tense your shoulder muscles by bringing your shoulders towards your ears while breathing in and let go while breathing out. 6: Whatever you do enjoy doing it. 7: Make a list of values and see how you can integrate them into your current lifestyle. 8: Remember that time doesn’t come to you, you need to take time. 9: Don’t feel guilty about taking a break and relaxing. 10: Get a professional massage or bodytreatment now and then FREE eBook: ‘Reaset the return of Ease’ and where you will also find more information about stress on www.tommeyers.be

Life Change Units

Transcript of the Feature Health Matters on Radio X  from 18 November 2013

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to episode 10 of Health Matters.  Where I take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges to our health and wellbeing Stress.

Today I like to share with you how ‘life changes and events’ influences your health. Did you know that positive and negative life changes and events can make you more susceptible to illness and accidents?

To that conclusion came psychologists Rahe and Holmes after a thorough study in the 1960. This research lead  to the Life change units scale.

When I learned about its existence in a psychology class it was a true aha moment.

Several patients had come to my practice with non trauma related neck, shoulder or back pain. Most of them said: “they’ve just woken up with it”.

What was so particular that many of these patients had only been living in Brussels 3 tot 4 months.

As I observed this pattern I started to ask patients when they had moved to Brussels and bingo each time close to 3 to 4 months. But what was the relationship with the physical condition of being physically stuck?

The Life Change Units scale gave me the insight.

So what changes have you gone through when you decided to go for that job opportunity in Belgium and thus decide to move here. For months you have prepared it, made possibly a few trips for job interviews and to find an apartment. Maybe you’ve been commuting leaving your family and kids behind before finally bringing them over. Now settled leaving family and friends behind you need to look for a new social network and adapt to a new language. Work is new, and you need to get to know the colleagues. You probably got a salary increase and more responsibility. I think you get the picture as you’ve probably been there.

How did you experience this period? As stressful?

What Holmes and Rahe have done is to give a score to all these life changes. They calculated that if you have more then 300 points on the Life Change Units scale the risk of illness or injury is increased by 70% In above example when scored you have more then 300 points in a couple of months.

The bottom line is that change activates the stress response and and that makes you tense. Chronic muscle tension can cause pressure on nerves and can even pul bony structures out of alignment. Auch that hurts and help is needed.

The stress response doesn’t only have an influence on muscles it also weakens your immunity so some people get severe colds or flue others stomach upsets or become anxious or suffer from depression. Marital problems are also possible or accidents, bad falls through reduced attention or concentration …

Change is sometimes inevitable. However slow down and take enough time to relax, relieve and restore to give your body the needed rest. Get a professional massage or other forms of body-work like stress coaching for body and mind and practice a mindful breathing exercise.

On the Health Matters section the website radiox.eu I’ll put a link to the Life Change Units Scale and you can see how much at risk you are. And if you have more then 300 points over the last years or worse the last 6 months maybe you like to consider an appointment for some Stress Coaching for Body and Mind for more information visit tommeyers.be

I’m Tom Meyers stress coach and contributor of thought to a more joyful and healthy way of living.

Meaning of the word stress

Transcript of the Feature Health matters on Radio X (16 September 2013)

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to the first episode of Health Matters here on Radio X. In Health Matters I’ll be taking a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges to our health and wellbeing STRESS. Stress, What is it? Why has it become a nuisance? and most importantly …What can YOU do about it?

In this weeks episode I like to establish first the meaning of the word stress. Many people use the word to refer to the trials and tribulations of life …. traffic jams, worries, too much work, deadlines or in other words the causes of stress. While others use it to describe the way they feel… Gosh I feel so stressed today. The more accepted meaning of stress however – and the way I’ll refer to it – in Health Matters – Is nor the cause or the feeling

When I talk about stress it is about the biological nature of stress. Stress as in the body’s autonomic response to internal or external demands, resulting in biological and behavioural changes.  I know… that’s a mouthful… but over the coming episodes of health matters I hope it will get clearer why I use this definition. Stress as an autonomic response means that it is a reflex …  and a result of our biological evolution.  To what purpose – you may ask -? Well the stress response was created to protect us from danger.

It’s a survival mechanism that will increase your heart rate, breath rate and blood pressure, will divert glucose throughout your body to where it is needed, contracts muscles and shuts down your thinking…. All at once for that just in time jump you make to get out of the way of that oncoming car that will surely have knocked you down if you hadn’t had such a great reflex.

The disadvantage of this survival mechanism – sometimes also referred to as the fight and flight response – is that on an evolutionary level it hasn’t really evolved itself significantly …. some say it hasn’t changed since the time we were cavemen and cavewomen. So imagine that this mechanism was made for the lifestyle of that prehistoric man and woman and now look around you… Life has changed a bit don’t you agree? To describe it in another way … we’re a commodore computer with the latest mac software. Mmm I think there might be some functional conflict there?

And so we’re arriving at a fundamental question that we must ask ourselves of why stress has become a nuisance… is our biology in conflict with our culture?  The American Institute of Stress mentions that an estimate of 75 – 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems. With those facts and figures in mind – I hope you agree -that it is time to take stress a bit more seriously.  So what can we do about it?

Here is one that I consider one the best – self help – stress release tools known to us which can be done anytime, anyplace, anywhere.  BREATHING, conscious slow breathing with a cycle of 6 breaths a minute which is inhaling for 5 seconds, release and exhale for 5 seconds. Repeat this exercise a minimum of 3 times a day for 3 minutes and feel how 9 minutes of your day invested in yourself can make the difference to your health and wellbeing.

For the full exercise download the FREE  eBook Reaset: The return to Ease and the mp3 with the sound of waves and seagulls in a sequence of 6 breaths a minute 🙂 

There, this was the first Health Matters episode with information, facts and figures and the first tip to tame stress and improve your health and wellbeing.

Would you like to listen to this feature again then go to the “listen again section’ of the website radiox.eu

I’m Tom Meyers have a great week and I’ll see you again next Monday here on Radio X.

And remember practice makes perfect.