MS, mindfulness and me – how ‘fight or flight’ does not work

The stress of the care taker

Now I know that I have MS and now people around me know it, stress occurs. For example my mother who lives nearby. She is nearly 67 years old, very vital and she is very touched by what’s going on. She always tries to help me / us. I am very thankful for it. There’s one problem: the more she is moved by my illness, the more stress it gives her. At least I think that her physical complaints are result of her stress about my illness. To be clear: she doesn’t want to learn mindfulness. She thinks she is too old to change, so… But I tried to find out how stress and emotion work on our brain and on our physical well being. This is what experts taught me about stress and emotion.

How the Brain Processes Emotion

Our lower brain centers, such as the amygdala or hypothalamus, were made to detect and respond to threats, such as a tiger about to eat us. They generate an immediate “fight ot flight” response to increase the odds of survival, but they can become hypersensitive, interfering with our ability to experience the present moment in an open and relaxed way. Daily meditation practice can help to correct this imbalance and allow us to retrain our minds so we are less likely to overreact with intense anger or fear to psychological threats, such as rejection. Being less chronically stressed can also help our immune systems function more efficiently to fight off disease.

What could my mother, in her role as a care taker do with being more mindful?

Mindfulness Takes Practice

Mindfulness meditation practices can  be extremely effective for attaining control over damaging thought patterns. For instance, lots of the psychological suffering that individuals experience is caused either by dwelling over past mistakes and problems, or from worrying about the future. Mindfulness exercises can soothe the discomfort by helping teach the mind to just accept the mistakes of the past, and to work on what they can control right now in order to make the future better. And for lots of people being affected by depression and anxiety, or other forms of neurosis, meditation and mindfulness practices are actually extremely effective at reducing, or curing altogether, these mental ailments, helping them to feel happy again.

Unfortunately my mother doesn’t read English so she will never know this. So I am left with being mindful to her. I heard a quote of a priest on a funeral yesterday that could help me a lot: life is about giving and receiving instead of about giving and taking.When you give a lot you receive a lot. I took that in mind and I will do it more than I do now as far as my condition lets me.

Sources: Prof.Dr. Jennifer Howard, Prof.Dr.Melanie Greenberg

Over iljas

Ilja Aussems is mijn naam. Ik ben specialist in "een goed gesprek met" Ik blog er elke week over, met mijn opleiding als communicatie-wetenschapper en mijn werkervaring als docent / trainer en adviseur bij de hand. Ik begeleid professionals die willen groeien in hun werk en/of privé. Ik ben jouw bruggenbouwer, train en begeleid je bij een goed gesprek met jezelf en met je doelgroep in je werk (klanten / cliënten, leerlingen, collega's, netwerk) en privé (jezelf, je relatie, je gezin).
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