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Mind/Body Basics
 
"Because we do not typically burn the energy called forth in the fight-or-flight response, we subject ourselves to a legion of negative repercussions: elevated blood pressure, enlarged and strained hearts, blockage of arteries."Herbert Benson, MD
Timeless Healing, 1996
THE STRESS RESPONSE
Stress is the term used to define the body's automatic physiologic reaction to circumstances that require behavioral adjustments.

Also called the fight-or-flight response, as identified by Dr. Walter B. Cannon of the Harvard Medical School almost one hundred years ago, it a profound set of involuntary physiological changes that occur whenever we are faced with a changing situation. This response, critical to the survival of primitive humankind, prepares the body for a physical reaction to a threat - to fight or flee. Confronted by this threat - physical or emotional, real or imagined - the hypothalamus causes the sympathetic nervous system to release epinephrine and norepinephrine (also known as adrenaline and noradrenaline) and other related hormones. When released into the body, these messengers propel you into a state of arousal.

When under stress:

Your metabolism increases
Your heart beats faster and your musclese tense
Your breathing becomes shallow and you start to perspire
The flow of blood to your internal organs and extremities decreases
The fuctioning of your immune and digestive systems is inhibited

The stress response is useful and can be necessary in time of emergency, but the frequent or unrelenting triggering of the stress response in our modern life without a balancing relaxation response can contribute to a number of illnesses and symptoms.

More Information
For more information on mind/body medicine, you may contact Director of Communications Martha Waldron at 617.991.0102 X213 or mwaldron@mbmi.org
Read Books by M/BMI Staff
Review News Clips including Newsweek's Special Issue
Stress Warning Signals
Herbert Benson, MD President,
Mind Body Medical Institute and
Mind Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine,
Harvard Medical School.