We all know that stress is part of our lives and, if not controlled, it can wreak havoc on our body, spirit and mind.
It’s easier to manage stress when we are healthy. Several “P” words, including prayer, come to mind to remind us to take care of our health.
Plan: Creating a written plan helps ground our thoughts, making it easier to move from words to action.
Points of view – seeing them: When you “get into someone’s head,” and see things from his vantage point, it leads to better understanding, which helps reduce anger, frustration and stress.
Past experiences are lessons: Think about what causes you stress and ask yourself how you can prevent that from happening in the future.
Precious moments: These special positive moments create, weave and spin positive memories. Think and talk about these precious moments, and be grateful for them. “Count your blessings” really works; it brings you many more.
Prayer: When we attend services and pray, we are promoting good health.
In his Feb. 7, 2014, article “The Mind, the Brain and God,” Rick Hanson, Ph.D., writes that we have “opportunities for self-directed neuroplasticity, for using the mind in targeted ways to change the brain, to change the mind for the better.
“… Most of them [opportunities] are the stuff of everyday life, such as building up the neural substrate of well-controlled attention through meditative practice. Or deliberately savoring positive experiences several times a day to increase storage in implicit memory, thus defeating the brain’s innate negativity bias, which makes it like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.”
In a Huffington Post blog, “Why People Who Pray Are Healthier Than Those Who Don’t,” journalist Richard Schiffman points out these facts:
• During relaxed states, the body’s metabolism decreases, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and our breath becomes calmer and more regular.
• Prayer and meditation increase levels of dopamine, which is associated with states of well-being and joy.
• Studies show that prayer boosts the immune system and helps to lessen the severity and frequency of a wide range of illnesses.
Schiffman concludes, “What science can tell us is that people who pray and meditate tend to be statistically more healthy and live longer than those who do not.”
I know that whenever I pray, chant or sing at temple services or at home, there is a part of my brain that goes into a very calm, trance-like state. I feel comforted and peaceful.
So, obviously, there is much we can do for ourselves to reduce stress and maintain our health. Once we get into a healthy routine and see the benefits, the effort is minimal … and without stress.
PATRICIA RASKIN hosts “The Patricia Raskin Show” on Saturdays at 4 p.m. on WPRO, 630 AM/99.7 FM. Raskin is a board member of Providence’s Temple Emanu-El.