Have you ever wondered why people go a bit cray cray in times of deep stress? It’s really out of our control…
Well the huge demands (stessors) placed on people such as they may be experiencing now, with job losses, financial pressures and trying to keep themselves and their families healthy, starts a chain of events.
The brain reacts according to Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, in that the amygdala senses danger and sends a distress signal to the hypothalmus. This part of the brain is like a command centre communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system.
When the hypothalmus receives a distress signal it activates our sympathetic nervous system. Stress hormones flood our body and it provides people with a burst of energy to respond to any perceived danger.
This allows people to activate the energy to fight or flight. This part of our brain controls our involuntary functions such as breathing, heart beat, heart rate, dilation of blood vessels and the like. This is why we show physiological signs when we feel stressed such as increased heart rate and headaches.
Our body becomes prepared to act in order to keep us safe. Stress hormone, cortisol is also activated and if not released from our body in a timely manner can cause problems to our health over time.
At the same time, a study by Amy. F. T. Arnstern National Institute of Health states that the pre-frontal cortex, which serves our highest cognitive function quickly suffers detrimentally to stress. It shuts down to conserve energy. Our thinking becomes impaired and we can lose our ability to think clearly. So the term ‘I’m losing my mind’ is kinda true!
It’s important to know according to Harvard, that the sympathetic nervous system, our ‘gas pedal’ and the parasympathetic nervous system, our ‘brake’ can’t function at the same time.
Our parasympathetic nervous system which controls our ‘rest and digest’ functions responds to help us calm down post threat. It does the job of dampening down our stress response. Under normal circumstances cortisol levels will be reduced.
People with chronic stress however, behave differently. The body produces more cortisol than it can release, and that becomes a pre-cursor to a range of health problems. For example heart disease.
Countering our stress response with our natural brake is so important to our overall health and well being!
Relaxation methods activate the parasympathetic system and we can more easily dampen down.
So how does it work?
One of the best ways of returning to calm is by returning to your breath.
Dr. Herbert Benson M.D. in his book “the relaxation response” outlines its positive effects. He maintains one of the best things we can do for ourselves is learn deep relaxation to counter the ‘flight fight’ response. When we breath in deeply it signals to our nervous system and our physiology we are safe and everything is ok.
So how do we do it?
Dr. Benson created his ‘relaxation response’ technique over 25 years ago which you can find here
Today I want to show you The Backpack Meditation by Gabby Bernstein because you can literally do it anywhere, hence its name!
It’s easy, feels great and it’s a quick way to reduce your stress response in one minute per day! To your best health and happiness….I hope you’ll give it a try.