Stress and Response

Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24

 We are all familiar with the concept of stress and the damage that chronic stress can do to the body. It was however the work of Hans Selye in the 1930’s that verified that there is a significant reaction by the body to stress. Selye was working on experiments with the endocrine system when he found that the body has some responses to chronic stress that are not good. Not that the body reacts poorly to stress- on the contrary. Our body, with its “fight or flight” syndrome, prepares us for conflict and danger by sending a flood of signals to prepare us to run, or to fight a threat. The body signals the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands in response to those threats. However, once the threat is gone, the body typically responds by clearing the excess cortisol. A chronic state of stress, the threat of danger all the time, even at a lower level, keeps those cortisol levels high, and this wreaks havoc on all the body systems.

We are living in very stressful times. Yes, every generation has said that- life is stressful. But the presence of COVID-19 these past months has raised the stress level for a sustained period of time, and it is wearing on everyone’s system to some degree.  So, what to do? Well, we know that we must do things to protect ourselves from virus exposure of course. But there are other things we can do to help emotionally.

The one I suggest today comes from Proverbs. When a pleasant word is spoken to someone else, there is a physiological response, as well as an emotional one. When we hear a good word, a word of encouragement, it literally is healing. I was so fascinated by this verse from Proverbs because it connects healing to our bones with the concept of “honeycomb”. Did you know that the inside of our bones looks like a honeycomb? That is where, in the marrow, blood cells are formed. Healing to the bones is healing to the entire body.

I am not a physician, and the above description does not come from an expert. However, God’s plan for healing IS the expert one. A kind word in these stressful times heals both the speaker and the listener.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the amazing way that we are made, as well as your plans for healing, Amen  


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