Scientists discovered around 20 years ago that the effects of stress could be passed to future generations through changes to the DNA. This was quite a shock to many at the time. And more recently, laboratory tests have shown that stress-mutated DNA could be playing a role in specific chronic conditions and ailments.
But a new study, recently published in the June 24 issue of Cell, makes for pleasing reading. Although stress-induced changes to DNA could be the cause of health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and even schizophrenia, the genetic damage can be reversed.
This is good news!
Of course, these scientists are funded by pharmaceutical companies to come up with drugs to reverse the gene damage caused by stress, and they have already found one which works with fruit flies.
However, there are much more natural and holistic ways to work with stress and we have information about many of them at The Therapy Book, such as Meridian Therapy and Multimodal Therapy.
Stress and evolution
Of course, it isn’t stress per se that is bad for us ~ after all, stress in its various forms has probably been the main cause of the evolution of all species on Earth for millions of years, thus the expression: “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
It’s just that, as with anything, you can have too much of a “good thing”, and in extremely stressful circumstances, the body’s system goes into overload. When we’re inundated with stressful situations, we might be unable to express our natural “fight or flight” mechanism, and the body is then subjected to an overdose of chemicals which it has to process, thus causing a viscious circle of stress piled upon stress. (See Why Work Overload Can Kill Us.)
What scientists don’t yet know is whether in dealing with our own stress in a holistic and balanced way, we can undo the “sins of the fathers”, in other words, the effects on our own DNA from previous generations in our family line.
It was already well-known among those that work with those who suffer from various addictions that a person is more likely to be an alcoholic or drug addict if one of their parents was also an addict.
Using holistic therapies to release built up stress in the body can all aid in that effort. Patients sometimes feed back that they actually feel ‘lighter’ afterwards ~ as if a heavy load has been lifted. Others say that aches and pains that they’ve had for years have eased, and sometimes completely vanished.
But of course, the best way to deal with stress is not to let it build up in the first place, and this is where Stress Management Therapy comes in.
Stress management therapy
As the name suggests, Stress Management Therapy is used for managing and coping with stress and for attempting to reduce the amount of stress a person feels in the first place. It is really a combination of therapies which are applied according to the clients’ needs.
There are two models of stress management.
The first is the ‘transactional model’. This suggests that stress is a result of ‘imbalance between demands and resources’ or as a perceived inability to cope. For example, in the workplace you may be asked to take on more work than you think you can handle, leading to further pressure and stress.
Then counsellors would try to break the link between the you and the stress. This works by changing perceptions of the potential stress. Rather than seeing the extra workload as a threat, you perceive it as a challenge and rather than focusing on an inability to cope, you should be confident that you can cope.
The second model of stress management is the ‘health realisation/innate health model’. This model suggests that a programme should focus on the nature of thought and in helping individuals understand this nature, as well as the ability to recognise when they are on the verge of ‘insecure thinking’. By ridding the mind of insecure thoughts as to your potential and ability, you can establish better feelings of wellbeing and hence reduce stress levels.
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