Mental and Emotional Stress

IN THIS SECTION

While you can’t always control what happens to you,
you can control how you react to it.

Channeling your emotions in a consciously positive way helps you to dramatically decrease the negative impact of stressful events. Learning how to do this is part of personal growth—mental and emotional, as well as spiritual. Integrating relaxation exercises such as meditation and deep breathing into your daily routine can make a dramatic improvement in your entire life, giving you the resolve to positively channel your emotions.

Mental and emotional responses to stimuli are referred to as limbic responses. The limbic system of the brain, sometimes called the “emotional nervous system,” moderates your moods, maintains homeostasis, and helps form memories.

Brain partsThe Master Gland. The hypothalamus, a small gland at the base of the brain, is a principal limbic structure whose primary purpose is to maintain homeostasis in the body—meaning that it returns systems within your body to their “set points.” Specifically, the hypothalamus regulates hunger, thirst, levels of pain and pleasure, sexual satisfaction, and aggressive or defensive behavior.

The hypothalamus—under the control of your thoughts, feelings, and attitude—sends instructions through the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland. The autonomic nervous system regulates blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, digestion, and sweating, and serves other vital functions. The pituitary gland releases hormones that cause other endocrine glands, such as the HPA glands and the thyroid, to secrete their hormones. The hypothalamus, therefore, is the principal intermediary between the nervous and endocrine systems—your body’s two major control systems.