Fit for Life          
  Issue: May 2007  

Fit for Life

by Planet Infinity



Can a person’s attitude cause a stress response?

Yes, certain negative attitudes trigger a long term stress response.

Can a person’s attitude relieve stress? Yes! Attitudes are very powerful.

What exactly is an attitude? It is a manner of acting, feeling, or thinking that reveals a person’s disposition or opinion.  A teacher and a preacher named John Hagee sums up attitude in four statements:

Your attitude is an inward feeling expressed by outward behavior. Your attitude is seen by all without you saying a word.

Your attitude is the “advance man” of your true self. The roots of your attitude are hidden, but its fruit is always visible.

Your attitude is your best friend or your worst enemy. It draws people to you or repels people from you.

Your attitude determines the quality of your relationships with your husband, your wife, your children, your employer, your friends.

Thoughts and feelings shape attitude, so it is important first and foremost for a person to identify his own thoughts and feelings.

What are the attitudes that can trigger the stress response on a person’s body? They tend to be criticism, pessimism, impatience, and attitudes that might be described as “pushy,” “grumpy,” and “contentious.” Rudeness and self-centeredness are definitely attitudes that impact the body negatively.

These attitudes give rise to behaviors that most people hate in others but often do not see in themselves: whining, murmuring, grumbling, backbiting, and arguing.

We all have a choice to either become “better or bitter,” you will notice that the only difference between the words better and bitter is the letter “i.” In our emotions, a positive attitude that is forward-looking is nearly always an attitude that includes others not just ourselves. A negative attitude that is marked by bitterness is nearly always an attitude that is totally self-centered, with the big “I” of self as the focal point.

One of the ways that physicians can measure the function of the autonomic nervous system is by what we term “heart rate variability.” A person’s heart rate variability is the measure of the beat-to-beat changes in the heart rate as the heart speeds up and slows down in different patterns. Surprisingly, heartbeat changes are especially influenced by a person’s emotions and attitudes. Thoughts, perceptions, and reactions can greatly affect heart rhythms, and heart rate variability is a good measure of the impact that various emotions have on the body.

Appreciation, joy, and love create a coherent spectrum on the heart rate variability EKG tracing. These emotions and attitudes enable a person to enter into a healthy state called “entrainment.” When a person has entered into entrainment, the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system are fully synchronized or balanced. This allows a person to enjoy just the right amount of stimulation and the right amount of relaxation. If a person consciously chooses to focus on things that evoke a sense of appreciation or gratitude, the nervous system comes back into balance, and all systems of the body – the brain included --- function in greater harmony.

The question is what about frustration, anger, anxiety, bitterness, resentment, and other toxic emotions? They create an incoherent spectrum on heart rate variability. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems get out of balance and are not fully synchronized.

The bottom line is:  deal with stress, respond with an attitude that displays contentment, appreciation, forgiveness, joy, love, and compassion. When these characteristics are manifested in your attitude about life’s situations, you empower yourself in overcoming stress.

An attitude of gratitude is the easiest attitude to access in order to relieve stress.

The choice is ours!

The lesson of the story? You can change if you want to.
Change your mind. Change your body. Change your life.

“Fit for Life” is available at Planet Infinity, the first and only wellness facility in the Philippines. Visit us at the 4th Floor No.77 Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City. (632)3762044, (632)4107926.