How Stress Affects The Body
Each of us has been gifted with incredible systems that make up our human bodies. Yet, few of us fully understand how they work. And even IF we have read the instruction manuals, continual updates are necessary as our collective knowledge expands.
Contrary to what society tells us, living in “stress mode” is actually NOT normal!
Autonomic Nervous System – Incredible Technology
Perhaps you remember learning at school about our two autonomic nervous systems: ‘normal mode’ Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and ‘stress mode’ Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). In effect, these two systems mirror each other.
When faced with a (real or perceived) threat, our SNS activates the so-called ‘fight, flight or freeze response’. This includes physical changes in the body, such as inhibiting our digestive and immune systems. Pupils get dilated for better vision. It increases our heart rate and expands our lung capacity. Our adrenal glands release epinephrine / norepinephrine giving our brains and bodies the energy boost needed to take quick action.
Then when the threat is over, the PNS reverts the body back to its normal mode of ‘repair, relax and reproduce’. For example, our digestive and immune systems are stimulated again. Our pupils and lungs contract again, and the heart rate slows down. Our bodies are then able to function again properly in a state of rest; repairing and maintaining themselves.
But this is where it gets tricky …
Our bodies are SO objective that they don’t know the difference between ACTUAL or PERCEIVED experiences. In other words, a perceived threat activates the same systems as an actual threat!
Feeling threatened can be triggered through small things such as sitting in the car, in traffic, being late for work, or dealing with some significant crisis or issue. As far as your body is concerned, it makes no difference whether you’re facing a hungry tiger looking for its next meal, or staring into a video lens with dread when you want to share your thoughts…
The Sympathetic Nervous System is designed to keep us alive! But it is intended for short bursts, so we can escape physical danger. When we’re in a constant state of stress, worry, anger, depression – the SNS remains active, doing it’s best to keep us alive. However, our body is less able to function as well as it should.
A long-term impact of keeping our SNS on high alert is that our immune function weakens, which can lead to illnesses like high blood pressure, IBS, stomach ulcers, anxiety, depression, and more.
We also tend to ‘react’ to problems from a crisis point of view, thinking with less clarity. We narrow our focus on the negative external factors of life (lack, scarcity, etc). Thoughts arise such as, “If only I had more money, or if I looked like her, I would be so much happier…”
In contrast, when we get ourselves out of survival mode, we are able to thrive in what we are doing. Being more relaxed enables us to think outside the box thus finding creative solutions for our predicaments. We learn more effectively and things become simplified.
Learning from Mama Nature
You’ve watched David Attenborough narrate an exciting lion chase, or perhaps you’ve witnessed one in real life? How do the ‘ones that got away’ cope with the stress?
Evolution dictates the cells learn from the experience and the collective energetic DNA gets updated.
Then the animal shakes its entire body to release the tension and simply moves on. No lingering in victimhood. It’s free to continue living its best life.
Even though us humans have made our lives more complicated than they need to be, we are incredibly blessed to be living in this time – there are SO many tools available to help us empower ourselves!
Wholistic Solutions for Heart-Centred Professionals
Our members are skilled in a wide variety of methods and tools, and offer support and guidance from their personal experience. This varies from physical tools, like exercise and breathing methods to tools that help us during deep inner work. There are also experienced members guiding others with practical tools for running their businesses. Take a look at “Getting to Know Each Other” for more info.