1. Cleaves M. Bennett MD Cleaves M. Bennett MD United States says:

    Stress is not a good term for this problem because it implies it is only the “bad stuff” that is causing harm. I prefer the term “constant adrenergic arousal” which means the adrenal glands and the sympathetic (emergency) nervous system are turned on far more often and for longer periods of time than is healthy for modern humans.

    The common term, “flight or fight response” is appropriate if a burglar has invaded your home or there is a fire at your place of work and you have to evacuate the office. True emergencies like this are rare among the middle and upper middle classes. They are over and done within a few minutes or a few hours.

    Much more common are the situations we get ourselves into by choice. For many of us these are daily. Studying for final exams, screaming at the Friday night football game when your son’s team is behind, the daily commute to the office in New York City, watching “24” Monday nights on TV, multi-tasking mothers (almost a cliché these days) with 3 kids in school, a demanding husband and a challenging full time job. And active in the PTA. And dealing with a difficult mother-in-law. Most of us are “adrenalin junkies”. We choose to watch NASCAR races and Mission Impossible. Many people find it difficult to wind down at the end of a demanding day without alcohol or illicit drugs.

    Our society’s response to this has been more and more ads on TV for prescription medicines to treat restless legs, insomnia, heartburn, high blood pressure, constipation, anxiety and depression, erectile dysfunction, various eating disorders, skin and even heart problems. Adrenergic arousal contributes to all of these medical problems.
    We share common genes, our physiology and dietary needs are similar to those of our primitive ancestors, the Paleolithic humans from 10,000 years ago. Yet we live and eat far, far differently. Primitive man had no light after the sun went down so he looked up at the stars and wondered what they meant. If he got excited, that meant he was getting ready to chase, run away or stand and fight. Primitive humans had a lot of “down time”. Modern humans need much more of it.

    I recommend on my fabulous new website, nomoremedicines.com, the best most relaxing type of exercise is walking your dog. If you don’t have a dog, go to the pound and rescue one. God smiles on those who rescue dogs. I walk my two rescue dogs for ½ hour twice a day, 7 days a week. That is one of the reasons that at an age (75 years old and counting) when most men are dead or sick, I am neither. In fact, I am at the top of my game. If I can do it, so can you.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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