A new study recently published in the European Heart Journal shows that the extent to which people perceive that their stress levels are affecting their health correlates with the physical reality of stress taking a negative toll on their bodies, and even increasing their risk of a heart attack.
These findings suggest that if stress perceptions were changed, a lot of physical symptoms, and even the onset of heart disease, could be potentially avoided, through stress-relieving methods such as meditation.
The study, led by Hermann Nabi of Inserm Institute’s Epidemiology and Public Health Research Centre, surveyed 7,268 individuals who claimed to be stressed. The individuals were questioned about their stress levels, along with other health factors in their lives, such as diet, exercise, disease history and alcohol intake.
Participants were also asked the following question: “to what extent do you consider the stress or pressure that you have experienced in your life has an effect on your health?” Answers ranged from “not at all,” to “extremely,” with several options in between.
Results of the study showed that those who rated their stress as being “a lot” or “extremely” relevant to their state of health were found to have over twice the risk of dying from a heart attack, in comparison to those who had answered that stress did not have any effect on their health. The participants’ perceptions of their stress and their health seemed to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Hermann Nabi writes, “the main message is that complaints from patients concerning the effect of stress on their health should not be ignored in a clinical environment, because they may indicate an increased risk of developing and dying of coronary disease. Future studies of stress should include perceptions of patients concerning the effect of stress on their health.”
This is not the first study to show that stress is related to negative physical effects. A number of studies have shown links between stress and heart disease, high blood pressure, migraines, skin problems and diabetes, among other ailments. However, the study performed by Nabi and his research team is crucial, since it focuses on the perception of stress, and perceptions – as many of us know – can be changed from within.
One time-tested and powerful way to change your perceptions, and to decrease your levels of stress in general, is meditation. A large body of research has linked daily meditation with lower blood pressure, decreased heart and breathing rates and effective use of oxygen by the body.
It is also associated with less cortisol production, which in turn leads to less belly fat, healthier skin, balanced blood sugar levels and improved immune system function.
Nabi’s study shows the crucial importance of keeping stress – and your perceptions regarding stress – in check. To lower your risk of a heart attack, as well as to provide your body and mind with a wide array of restorative benefits, take a few minutes to meditate each day. As little as five minutes per session is all you need to get started.
The more you meditate, the more you will find your stress melting away, and the more in control of your mental impulses you will become. It is greatly worth it to your mental and physical health, as well as to your overall sense of happiness and relaxation, to meditate every day.
Try it, it can only help!
-The Alternative Daily