Friday, 29 August 2008

Relax your way to health

Okay, now I think it's time to talk about an idea I've been nurturing for a little while. The idea that we as a society don't really know enough about how our minds and bodies recover their strength and possible links this could have to many problems we have in life.

Quite a broad topic isn't it. Well it's really just going to be a little stroll among the ball park that just suggests some ideas I've had for a while that seem to hold up to deeper analysis.

The general idea is that first off our bodies are naturally built to restore themselves. Our mind, body and emotions all go through periods of being used up, worn out or pushed to the limit and we need to give them time to relax and fill up their tanks again. Some of this we readily understand such as how our muscles get stronger, wounds heal and how we need to relax after being stressed.

Okay that's obvious enough. What I wonder though is, what impact does it have on our lives if we don't give sufficient space and time to recovery for each aspect in our daily lives. I'd like to analyse the mind, body and emotions in this article but I'm really interested right now on the mind. The reason being that there isn't so much research, to my knowledge, on the effects of a mind that hasn't been allowed to recover so we don't know much about it's effects. The body we know plenty about and there's lots of info out there. Our emotions could actually also be included in what I'm about to talk about because they also aren't investigated as thoroughly as the body but I'm not so knowledgeable on the topic of emotions so I'll leave that for now.

So what is it I want to say. Well basically it's following on from a previous article on recovery and western illnesses that put forth the idea that many of the physical, mental and emotional problems we face in life may be partly down to a lack of respect for recovery that western society has. We all seem so focused on getting where we're going that we don't like to stop off for a little rest. We treat life as a sprint rather than a marathon, or better yet the tour de france. These guys don't race through the night. They get some kip too and if they dont take care of themselves every day then they won't last long.

Any way I said I wanted to talk about the mind. How could a lack of recovery in the mind have a part to play in developing physical and emotional problems. Well it occurred to me that the mind, particularly the limbic (kind brain) system is the control center for much of the body. I believe even the spinal cord itself may have a part to play in controlling very basic functions of the body. Now there's plenty of evidence that without proper sleep the brain function gets worse and worse and worse. So it's only natural to assume that it's control over the body gets worse and worse and worse. Therefore a brain that is routinely starved of sleep and recovery time will routinely function badly. Sure it will probably learn to adapt to the lack of sleep and find a way to do it's best but there are always limits. Do we really know each persons limits in terms of recovery time through sleep.

Another post on this blog about heart disease and rest talks about the possibility that all the risk factors for coronary heart disease could simply be a reflection that the circulation isn't functioning very well and things like cholesterol are being released to try to fix this. Now I can't prove this is the case but it certainly makes a lot of sense to me to explain it thus.

Someone who is highly stimulated all day because their fight or flight (adrenal) response is always activated, say they drink a lot of caffeine, are always on the go and don't rest untiul they hit the pillow at night. the kind of guys that do this on a regular basis. They're the most likely to have heart problems. Well in this view they brain is not getting enough time to relax. Possibly because the adrenaline is still flowing through their system so the brain can't fully shut down. therefore essential ugrades and maintenance to nervous system infrastructure that supplies the most ipmortant parts of the body will most likely be the upgrades that don't happen cos these can't be shut down. That means over time their functionality drops. So breathing, heart rate, control of blood pressure, flexiblity of artieries and the circulation system as a whole gets worse because the whole of the body is getting worse. Each system that is failing is causing problems in other systems.

To me this is a very simple explanation but it also holds up very well every time I try to tear it apart. It explains to me why as a generation we may not all outlast our parents. It give insight into why cultures that have high risk factors such as the French don't have the high level of disease and death (morbidity and mortality) that countries such as the UK and US do. It may explain partly why cultures that used to follow their own traditional lifestyles but now follow more westernised lifestyles such as Japan are showing more westernised trends of disease and mortality.

So there you go. I hope I haven't babbled on too much. Maybe others have already arrived at this notion. If so I'd love to hear about it. I'd love to find more of the pieces to this puzzle. Maybe in time this idea will fall apart but I really like it right now. What do you think?
Post a Comment