Stress Awareness: The First Step Towards Mind/Body Health
Hans Selye M.D. Ph.D. is the author of 20 or more books. Two of them are “The Stress of Life” and “Stress in Health and Disease.” He is the father of and has written textbooks on the medical science of Endocrinology. He is recognized by the scientific community as the first medical scientist in the 20th century to understand the disease process. In his monumental paper entitled the “General Adaptation Syndrome,” Dr. Selye defined stress as the non-specific response of the body to any mental or physical demand. These responses cause certain positive or negative changes in the structures and chemical compositions of the body. Dr. Selye defined these stages of physical changes in the disease process as: 1) the alarm reaction stage, 2) the resistance or adaptation stage, and 3) the stage of exhaustion when irreversible bodily tissue damage occurs. An example of the first stage of disease can be easily seen when a teenager takes their introductory puff from a burning cigarette. Upon inhaling their first lungful drag of smoky air, the teenager’s body rejects it violently with an evolutionary and genetic reflex that’s a physical reaction. The teenager will cough repetitively during this physical rejection of the heated gaseous matter till their face turns red. This teenager may even get queasy and vomit their stomach’s contents because of this toxic breathing experience. This is Dr. Selye’s “alarm reaction stage,” which is the body’s genetic evolutionary reflex to an environmental stress. This physical reaction is the first stage in the disease process.
Because this teenager had friends making fun of her or his childish violent reaction to smoking for the first time. Or maybe this teenager has some mental images, coming from the subliminal tricks of special interest. Financial interests that want to influence a teenager to smoke. Whatever the reason, the teenager will try to smoke again. The teenager’s next attempt to the smoking experience is different. Maybe because the teenager undertakes smoking with a little more caution and doesn’t inhale much of the cigarette’s smoke. Or maybe she or he doesn’t intake the smoke too deeply into their lungs. Now the teenager’s body is experiencing this poisonous heated carcinogenic vapor for the second time. So what should this teenager’s body do? The smoke is still a poison to the body. With this repeated experience, the body’s immune system from this second exposure starts to combat these poisons with all its natural powers, producing more antibodies. Antibodies are proteins generated by all the immune system’s cells in reaction to these foreign noxious substances found in this smoky clouded air. The brain and the immune system recognize the heated smoke from before. They still know it’s not healthy for the body’s living tissues and processes. This is Dr. Selye’s “resistance or adaptation stage” where the intelligence of the body recognizes a life threatening substance for a second time. The body now needs to further arm itself and its immune system for more future encounters with these antigens in order to stay functioning and physically chemically balanced to remain healthy. An “antigen” is another word for an “allergen” and when the immune system is overworked from too many stress producing foreign bodies in the blood stream, we call the condition an allergy.
For a teenager or any person lacking enough energy and nutrients, the main chemical in the leaves of the tobacco plant that is smoked is nicotine, which is pharmacologically classified as a stimulant. This nicotine chemical can give a person a false feeling of alertness or energy similar to the chemical caffeine that is roasted, pressed and filtered from the beans of the coffee plant. Nicotine and caffeine belong to the same chemical family and are vasoconstrictors, which means when consumed the body’s blood vessels contract to a smaller diameter and size. This vasoconstriction of the vascular blood system by these chemicals causes the heart to work harder to get the same amount of blood to the body’s tissues and cells for consuming energy and nutrients and for eliminating the cell’s waste. The nicotine, if it wasn’t present in the blood would not constrict the vessels and the heart would not have to work harder. This effect of repeated stimulation from smoking over time could create a mental and physical dependence. Some need this stimulation upon waking in the morning and throughout the day because they lack physical energy and mental clarity. Lacking physical energy and mental clarity daily are the truths and consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle.
For anyone, if their smoking experiment continues and becomes a subconscious mind and body dependent habit, she or he will find it very hard to function daily without a certain number of cigarettes. The number of cigarettes will depend upon the different moment-to-moment needs of every individual for energy