Happiness or Stress – You Choose

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” ~ Omar Khayyam

Many people don’t realize they have a choice when it comes to being happy.

No, this isn’t some Pollyanna / New Age wishful thinking. It is, in fact, based on science.

But before talking about exactly what that means, it is worth reviewing the problems with chronic stress. There are many. Here is a brief list of the most crucial. Chronic stress…

  • Sabotages your immune system. This increases your chance of getting infections, colds and flu.
  • Accelerates aging. What to look older? Just carry chronic stress.
  • Throws your hormones out of balance. Cortisol is the survival hormone. When you are stressed, it takes resources from your other hormones.
  • Creates chronic inflammation. If you like pain and disease, stress is an excellent way to go.
  • Makes you more likely to get heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Enough said.

Hormones are critical players in the stress process. As mentioned, cortisol is the “stress hormone.” But did you know there is an anti-stress hormone? There is. It’s called oxytocin.

Oxytocin is used in medicine to help induce labor. But your body uses it in many other ways. For example, oxytocin is important for:

  • Increasing bonding between people. Mothers bond more strongly with their babies. Spouses bond more strongly with each other.
  • Reducing stress, anxiety and depression. This is especially true when these are caused by separation.
  • Increases memory, especially emotional memories.
  • Boosts sexual arousal. This is most present when couples enjoy hugging and cuddling.
  • Reduces drug cravings. It also lowers withdrawal symptoms.
  • Improves social skills.
  • Raises protective instincts.
  • Supports healthy sleep.
  • Increases generosity.

All together, these qualities reduce emotional stress.

By now you may be wondering how to increase oxytocin. There are several ways. Here are a few:

  1. Meditate. Even if you’ve never meditated, you can learn in a short while. Ten minutes a day will do it. Studies show increases in oxytocin in meditators.
  2. Nurture others. As you get older, little annoyances can seem bigger. That’s because oxytocin production declines. More hugging, social contact and offering support to others can reverse this.
  3. Take it as a supplement. You can’t take it as a pill or capsule. It gets destroyed in the gut. It can be injected, but it doesn’t last too long that way. The best way is by nasal spray.

Stress kills. But you can have a strong influence on reducing its effects. Try these three approaches and see. Let me know the results.

All the best to you for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

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