What do movies, video games, flight simulators, and the newcomer on the scene — Virtual Reality (VR) devices — have in common? They are all meant to provide an experience that doesn’t exist, which they do through your senses. They draw you into their world to such an extent that you may tune out the real world for a time. If the movie or game is action packed, you might notice that your pulse is rapid and you are breathing rapidly, yet with the possible exception of VR, you have been barely moving physically — certainly not enough to warrant your physiological reaction. The last thing you want to watch before bedtime is an action movie, unless you don’t plan on sleeping right away, because you first need to settle down from the non-existent trauma you just experienced through the movie.
You might say that the movie or game was stressful, but in an enjoyable way — unless of course you couldn’t make it past the dragon in the game and you were completely frustrated. But then life returned to normal, you tune your senses back to the real world, and your heart rate and blood pressure settle down. Your perception of reality was altered for a short while, but that doesn’t last. While you were wound up briefly, you would not expect that it to have any lasting effect on your life. But how about long-lasting stress — worry about finances or a family member, a demanding job, or fear of the future? Does that have a lasting impact?
Back when our presidents were young enough to have normal hair color when they started office, it was said that the presidency turns their hair gray. We still say that the job ages a president, who appears to age visibly while in office. Yet the president is surrounded by relative luxury, with people to attend to every need. Why do they appear to age rapidly in office? Evidently that stressful job has a lasting impact. The president shoulders the concerns of a whole nation even while living easy physical life.
If a tree doesn’t fall in the forest, but you hear it crash, did it really fall?
When watching movies, playing sedentary video games, or even listening to pulse-pounding music, your senses are engaged. It is through your senses that you perceive reality.
Our minds don’t have direct contact with our environment; instead, we perceive the environment through our senses which take a representation of what is happening beyond them, turn that representation into signals, and pass those signals to our brains for processing. Two people can experience the exact same event, but they may react differently because of their differing perceptions: one was more frightened perhaps, and the other took it in stride — and if you could medically check their physiology, you would see that they were responding in different ways. If you ask for detailed descriptions of the event, you would likely get different views of what happened. Eye witnesses to the scene of a crime often tell somewhat different stories, and more witnesses are valuable to sort out what really happened, because the story each tells depends on what each perceived.
If someone has a stressful job but enjoys the hustle and action, that person is perceiving the stress as excitement and variety, and would likely find slower-paced employment as boring. People react to all aspects of life differently. Perception is the key, but it changes with experience because experience is one of the building blocks of perception. Many performers start with stage fright, but after a few successful performances they enjoy getting out on stage. One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to handling stress.
In a comedy movie, The Man Who Knew Too Little, someone gets a ticket for an audience participation game and inadvertently intersects a dangerous international plot in progress. He thinks all the events around him are part of the game, so he calmly walks right through the midst of crimes happening around him, not believing he is in any danger. He plays along and even mocks some of the criminals to their faces, never breaking a sweat. The plot worked because we realize that perception of danger causes stress, not the actual events themselves.
Not all stress is created equal…
This is tied together in a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, where researchers conducted a study of 955 participants to determine which of four types of stress — perceived stress, number of stressful life events, adverse childhood experiences, and post-traumatic stress disorder — were associated with accelerated biological aging. Of course, all of these were actually perceived stress because that’s the only type of life experience that becomes stressful, but this study focused on what the participants believed to be high level chronic stress. Those with high levels of perceived stress were biologically aging at a rate of an additional 2.4 months per year, while the other categories caused an additional 1.1 to 1.4 months per year. When they combined high perceived stress with high counts of stressful life events in the study they accounted for a 6.9% increase in accelerated aging. This was equivalent to the impact of smoking on one’s health.
So what might stress and smoking have in common? In a word: inflammation. The inflammatory effect of smoking is obvious: the smoker regularly breathes in toxins and irritants which evoke protective reactions in the body, with inflammation leading the charge. Chronic stress, however, is mental. The brain tries to respond to stress in many ways which are meant to prepare the body for “fight or flight.” These reactions are inflammatory: the immune system intentionally causes inflammation to heal breakdowns in the body, and stress puts the immune system on alert; whereas rest, which doesn’t occur during perceived threat, rebuilds the damage done, reduces inflammation, and calms the immune system. Stress breaks the daily balance between stress and calm, between work and activity versus rest and sleep. Simply getting up and facing the day’s work requires some stress, otherwise you would just stay in bed, but that stress should be temporary, and you should get sufficient rest and sleep so that the balance is maintained and you aren’t building inflammation levels. Chronic stress means that rest is going to suffer as a result.
People seem to age at different rates. This phenomenon is due to how we measure age. Each person has a certain number of birthdays logged, but may appear and act older than another with the same number of birthdays. What are the outward signs of aging? Wrinkled skin? Energy levels? Mental sharpness? All of these are factors, but those maintaining vibrant health over many years will have less outward signs of aging than others of the same chronological age. It’s the “wear and tear” of the body that we notice as age. And what causes excessive wear and tear? It’s the ongoing tearing down of the body without sufficient rebuilding of the body. It’s inflammation that is stuck at high levels over long periods. And it is perceived stress that has been taking its toll over the years. As noted in a research article considering the link between inflammation and disease published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, “Chronic inflammation is an essential component of chronic diseases. Additionally, accumulating evidence suggested that excessive inflammation plays critical roles in the pathophysiology of the stress-related diseases…” It also notes the tendency for stress markers such as IL-6 levels in the blood to increase with age. This makes sense because the older body needs more rebuilding and is less resilient to wear and tear. Maintaining a strong, healthy body is anti-aging, because inflammation is kept lower.
The axis of degeneration: stress, inflammation, and chronological aging
None of these factors are bad in themselves, and none are avoidable. They are a part of life, but they all contribute to the degeneration we consider to be “aging.” We can’t stop chronological aging. But stress and inflammation are at least somewhat under our control, being driven by perception and by a healthy lifestyle. And that is the goal of longevity: not to live in these bodies forever, but to extend that time while being healthy and enjoying life.
An editorial article published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry ties this axis together. Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California first define physiological aging: “Individual differences in the aging process can be conceptualized as an accumulation of wear and tear caused by daily experiences and major life stressors that interact with genetic constitution and predisposing early life experiences.” They note that the neuroendocrine system (glands that secrete hormones under the control of brain signaling), nervous system, and immune system are all mediated in response to daily life challenges, and they are meant to maintain stability through change — this is called allostasis. Stress alters hormone levels to keep the body at a high level of alertness and attention, breaking allostasis. Too much chronic stress and the aging process will accelerate, along with the frequency of degenerative diseases.
How can perception change?
You will have stressful things happen in life, and have had many occur already. If you see them as threats, then your stress mitigation systems put you in a fight or flight stance. If that is where you live your life — chronically stressed — then your aging process is accelerating. But are the threats real? Here’s a hint: threats are meant to be temporary, and if you don’t see them as temporary, then your perception is probably not accurate. Financial, job-related, familial, and even health-related stressors can change. If you simply assume that they won’t, you poison your perception of the future. You also may be neglecting the good things that are happening, focusing on the bad. If you focus on the good, you change your perception. But most of all, if you can know that you are loved by Him and your life is in His hands, you can treat the bad events as just bumps in your road to what will be a good future. Be thankful and realize you are not some cosmic random accident but are loved by God, and look for what life has to offer. By perceiving life as good, you just might find that it really is.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
So, in a nutshell, what is aging?
Aging is an amount of inflammation that builds up in the body and is usually turned on when the immune system is over active. What makes the immune system overactive: wrong food choices, not being hydrated enough, not getting enough exercise, and not getting enough sleep.
What is the biggest trigger of immune system, the worst inflamer? According to the the Psychosomatic Medicine article it is PERCEIVED stress.
Let’s explore a little deeper into perceived stress. Look at stress as a force applied to a system and that the system has to react to the force one way or another. Look at stress as a weight on a bar in a gym. Let’s say the weight is 1 pound on the bar. Can you lift 1 pound? Sure, you say, that’s easy. But you didn’t ask me how many times you have to lift it. Is there a difference between lifting it one time and lifting it 100,000 times? Absolutely. We will call the one time lift of the weight ACUTE stress and we will call the hundred thousand time lift the CHRONIC stress. Your body was meant to lift 1 pound, and even much more, but not 100,000 times a day. This is where we get into trouble — this is where the stress does damage. What’s the deciding factor between lifting a weight one time or lifting at 100,000 times? What you are thinking about.
If you are thinking predominantly negatively, or about all the negative outcomes, this leads to more chronic stress because there are a lot of possible negative outcomes in any situation. So if you spend time meditating on each possible outcome, your overstimulate your neurotransmitters and stress hormones into imbalances. Now on the other hand, let’s say you’re seeing only one very good outcome and that’s all you’re thinking about in your mind — that’s what you’re meditating on day and night — that is actually very minimal stress, which is exciting and pleasurable. So what’s the difference, what makes the dividing line between acute and chronic stress, causing acute or chronic inflammation? Preconceived stress that began as a stress program between the age of zero and six.
You are a product of the environment you grew up in, and if that was with one with mental-emotional toxicity and imbalance in a parent, sibling, relative, friend, or neighbor — at that early age you were highly impressionable to the environment around you, so much so that it absorbed easily and rapidly through your mind and this was stored as a mental stress program on the hard drive of your brain. From this point on, you have a preconceived chronic stress program and you’re not even aware of it because it’s subconscious, but it dictates your choices, your thoughts, your life and even your physical and mental-emotional health.
This is why at Revolution New Medicine we created our signature MBEB protocol program. This combines 3-D Brain imaging and brain mapping with our brain treatment protocol to release and reprogram the subconscious stress programs. In doing so, it completely changes perceptions and stressors — and most importantly, mind, emotion, and PHYSICAL health.
If you do not release and re-program these subconscious stress programs then you will constantly be thinking on these stressors subconsciously, and what you think on and experience molds your future perception of life and the health of your physical body. We have never seen in 40 years one cancer patient without subconscious stress programs stored in the brain that needed releasing and reprogramming. This is the key not only to mental-emotional health but absolutely to physical health. So if a person has 100 possible outcomes: 99 are negative — what they could lose — and only one is positive — how much they will gain. The decision is usually made by preconceived perceptions from earlier times in life.
So if you see and fix your mind on all the 99 negative outcomes, then your energy is that of chronic stress, chronic inflammation — this is what we call fear, doubt, and worry. But once you release the subconscious stress programs, you can now see ONE outcome, and you can now fix your mind on that one positive best outcome, then that energy of acute stress actually strengthens the body, and as research shows that energy is excited anticipation and very anti-aging.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.