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By Dr. N. G. Shivdasani
Balance Balance
The human being is the most intelligent animal on planet Earth. This gives him a sense of power over the “Lesser” creatures. Being gifted with a superior intellect, man feels he can rule the planet with his mind. Our puny minds can invent powerful machines, faster computers, and devastating weapons to give us a false sense of security over our environment.

We are however, helpless, when we are confronted with our own thoughts. The mind is also capable of highly negative thoughts. The average person has no defense against this deadly foe. We imagine the worst in any given situation. Our first inclination is to believe the most negative and serious condition possible. Any headache is thought of as a brain tumor. A fever is considered to be due to a rare fatal disorder. A car accident is never considered minor.

We must learn to harness our mental energy if we are to enjoy good health. I come across patients who have minor illnesses but suffer over a long period of time. They go from doctor to doctor and try all kinds of treatment without success. When they are told the problem is psychosomatic, the standard response is, “But doc, the pain is real”. I remind them that even a heart attack, which can kill, is stress induced. So, aches and pains could be due to stress.

Once the patient is willing to accept his problem is due to stress, the cause of tension can be looked for. It may be work related, or due to a family member, or financial. Whatever the cause, once identified, the solution can be worked out. A fear of the unknown causes more harm than that due to a known cause, hence one should always try and identify the cause. Americans, for instance, spend millions of dollars undergoing psychoanalysis trying to discover their hidden fears.

I strongly believe most illnesses are stress–related, and chronic stress does more harm than an acute infection. The body releases certain chemicals, such as cortisone, which alter immune responses, and make us more susceptible to infections and illnesses. We have to learn techniques, which help us to combat the ill–effects of chronic stress. Self–hypnosis, meditation, breathing exercises and regular exercise help in improving health.

My patients tend to accept that they need more exercise, but claim their busy schedule allows no time for exercise. If one gets up a half–hour earlier, not only will there be time for exercise, one will find more energy for routine tasks which will then be completed faster than usual. Today’s lifestyle is very stressful, and if we want more out of life we must think positive, and work actively to control stress which threatens to overcome us.