Your emotional state has a direct effect on your health and well being. Your body responds to stress with activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Structures within the brain serve as control panels for these functions. One of these control panels is in your hypothalamus. It overrides the parasympathetic nervous system which calms emotions. Activation of the posterior hypothalamus intiates a “flight or fight” response. This is the same “freeze” response you have when you are suddenly startled by something you did not expect. You may fall to your knees or drop a glass you are holding when someone jumps out and startles you.
When you are startled arteries thoughout your body constrict and other vessels dilate to increase the flow of blood back to your heart. Your adrenal glands release chemicals that tell your body there is a threat. If the stress continues cortisol is released. Cortisol has both short term benefits and long term negative effects. This complex response is part of a new field called psychoneuroimmunology and is part of the mind-body connection.
When you perceive and experience stress your body logs the experiences. It is important you recognize stress and pursue strategies to alter these responses. The first step is to seek the balance of satisfaction rather than the state of happiness which is all to often clouded by judgement and perception. Satisfaction, on the other hand, is tethered to pleasure, engagement and gratification. When you are satisfied you have found a state where there is the sense of fullness, fit and flow. Every parent can recall events that embody satisfaction. Your memories could include your child’s first steps, the swing of a home run, a soccer goal, a dance recital or their word. When these experiences happen time stops and your feelings in the present allow past feelings and emotional responses to be rewritten. In this act the past has changed. satisfaction mediates this change.
Parenting is filled with experiences that evoke fear, worry and concern. By seeking satisfaction in your life you will learn to mediate these negative responses and thereby control your hormonally mediated responses that damage your body and shorten your life. Protect yourself by throwing away this concept of immutability of the past. Every day seek satisfaction in your words and actions. Your life will be filled with unlimited opportunities and your child will see how you live life and will learn by watching you. You are your child’s best teacher.