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Stress starts here. When your body goes on high alert because of a real or perceived threat, your brain sets off your fight-or-flight alarm system, triggering your adrenal glands to release a flood of hormones—including adrenaline and cortisol, which increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Unfortunately, because so many of us are chronically stressed, our fight-or-flight response never shuts off and our cortisol levels remain elevated, potentially increasing the risk for depression, hypertension, and possibly some cancers.
Roughly 25 percent of people say stress gives them an upset stomach or indigestion, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Here's why: Prolonged anxiety slows digestion as your nervous system directs its energy toward the organs and muscles most critical to survival. This, in turn, can cause nausea, constipation, cramping, and bloating.
Stress-prone people are about 40 percent more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, according to a study from Rush University. Researchers believe that high levels of stress hormones may damage or shrink the hippocampus (an area deep in the brain that's responsible for long-term memory).
Chronic stress can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that drama with a spouse or close friend could increase your risk of heart problems by up to 34 percent.
The hormones released by your body's stress response may suppress ovulation, according to research from the Emory University School of Medicine. A separate study found that women undergoing IVF were 2.6 times more likely to get pregnant if they also participated in a stress-management program.
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Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Science-of-Stress-What-Stress-Does-to-Your-Body#ixzz2a76FIiZw
May 14, 2013
Recently, Jil Ashton-Leigh of Steveston, B. C., Canada told me about a wise Chinese art instructor who looked at her painting of the Fraser River and said, "Your mind--it is too fast." He told her to sit by the river for 30 minutes each day--no camera, no cellphone. "When you observe the river then you will come to know it," he said. If you're interested, you can read Jil's full letter, The Art of Patience, at the top of the current clickback.
Thanks, Jil. I first noticed my own problem about 20 years ago. I was losing patience with any outdoor painting I started. I was jumping up and running around with my camera looking like an advanced case of St. Vitus' dance. It wasn't the coffee.
It was something more serious. In my love affair with technology, I had mistaken my camera for a life. In my compulsion to grab every image, I lost sight of places I could pleasantly inhabit. I had become a mere collector without actually observing the things I was collecting, and I was feeling bad about myself.
Further, I realized I was living in a world that was "putting in a nickel and trying to get a dollar tune." I took the advice of the great American art educator and author of The Art Spirit, Robert Henri. He warned of the potential problems of too much camera, too little time. To build observational skills when painting from a live model, he frequently placed his students and their easels in one room and the model in another. "There is no art without contemplation," he told his students as they trudged back and forth.
One fine day I had my "hour of decision." Just as a child eventually deserts its soother, I suddenly didn't need my camera any more.
Brothers and sisters, if you've been troubled, or if you've been teetering on the edge, both Jil and I need you to convert. Glad tidings are in the grace of patience. "All things come to he who waits," wrote the poet Violet Fane in 1890. Sit still. Look around. Be one with nature. Inhale life. Observe the nuances. Come sit by the river.
PS: "Patience has to be cultivated. Perhaps the entire creative process can be viewed as a patience builder." (Jil Ashton-Leigh)
Esoterica: Several years ago I was visiting William Wordsworth's cottage near Grasmere in the English Lake District. Alone, I followed his trails out behind and above his property and into the shining dales. Passing slowly by nodding daffodils and under scudding clouds, I suddenly got it. No wonder Wordsworth was such a great poet! He took the time to think, to wonder, to contemplate. While predating the phone and the instant camera, he nevertheless had a warning:
"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!" (William Wordsworth, 1770-1850)