Tuesday, November 20, 2007

On slowing down:

In a world where the U.S. mail is now compared to a snail rather than a pony, a dial up modem-- which can bring information from all over the world in a matter of minutes-- is considered intolerably slow, and where slow is defined unflatteringly as:

apathetic, crawling, creeping, dawdling, delaying, deliberate, dilatory, disinclined, dreamy, drowsy, easy, gradual, heavy, idle, imperceptible, inactive, indolent, inert, lackadaisical, laggard, lagging, lazy, leaden, leisurely, lethargic, listless, loitering, measured, moderate, negligent, passive, phlegmatic, plodding, ponderous, postponing, procrastinating, quiet, reluctant, remiss, slack, sleepy, slothful, slow-moving, sluggish, snaillike, stagnant, supine, tardy, torpid, tortoiselike,

it’s easy to forget what’s so good about slow.

All kinds of clich├ęs and pop songs point out the wisdom of taking things slowly at least some of the time:

Take time to smell the flowers.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Slow down. You move to fast. Got to make the moment last…

Truth is:

Slow food tastes better and is usually better for you than fast food.

Hypermiling (coasting and slow acceleration) saves gas and the planet.

Relationships which have developed slowly often seem to last longer.

But if conventional wisdom and anecdotal evidence isn’t enough to convince you to slow down, maybe scientific evidence that slow is better for your health will do it.

According to the American Institute of Stress, 75 - 90 percent of doctor visits stem from stress. Though itself somewhat intangible, stress causes various undeniably real physical reactions:

• “heart rate and blood pressure soar to increase the flow of blood to the brain to improve decision making,

• blood sugar rises to furnish more fuel for energy as the result of the breakdown of glycogen, fat and protein stores,

• blood is shunted away from the gut, where it is not immediately needed for purposes of digestion, to the large muscles of the arms and legs to provide more strength in combat, or greater speed in getting away from a scene of potential peril,

• clotting occurs more quickly to prevent blood loss from lacerations or internal hemorrhage.

These and myriad other immediate and automatic responses have been exquisitely honed over the lengthy course of human evolution as life saving measures to facilitate primitive man's ability to deal with physical challenges. However, the nature of stress for modern man is not an occasional confrontation with a saber-toothed tiger or a hostile warrior but rather a host of emotional threats like getting stuck in traffic and fights with customers, co-workers, or family members, that often occur several times a day. Unfortunately, our bodies still react with these same, archaic fight or flight responses that are now not only not useful but potentially damaging and deadly. Repeatedly invoked, it is not hard to see how they can contribute to hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, ulcers, neck or low back pain and other "Diseases of Civilization".” American Institute of Stress http://www.stress.org/americas.htm

“In conditions of stress, our adrenal glands must work very hard to create numerous hormones that regulate the blood sugar and help the body heal.” What Causes Heart Attacks by Tom Cowan, Wise Traditions, Fall 2007. If the adrenal glands are worn out by chronic stress or repeated episodic stress, they can’t do this essential work.

Slow. Because the tortoise beat the hare (who had a stress-related heart attack). Best of all, the tortoise got to smell the flowers along the way.


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