Brain & Stress
What are you telling your cells today? What is the connection between your perception of the world, your reality and your nervous system?
When an organism is in a state of stress, different chemicals are released to activate areas of the brain to prepare you for this danger ahead. Hormone centers start producing direct-messengers to start mobilizing all the body’s energy and recourses to prepare us to fight, flight or hide. This reaction could be caused by a bear on the road, an exam or presenting a big presentation. The hormones to stress and your response to the conditions in life, real or imagined, are knocking the autonomic nervous system out of balance and that is the exact definition what stress is.
The body will be at it’s most heightened state as will the mind in this neuro-emotional state. You are in survival, your senses are elevated, you’re heart is racing all of your attention is in fight, flight or hide mode the body is in a temporary disbalans, no homeostasis. There is no time to digest, to activate the immune system, to grow, to up-regulate or to heal. In survival there is no time to open your heart, to enjoy the little things and to create a joyful life. When this happens short-term a body and mind can recover. This is a perfectly healthy reaction and needed in order to survive. When stress becomes chronic, it becomes a more serious condition. No organism can survive living in a chronic stress-respons, because cellular metabolism is compromised.
Humans are one of the rare species that can turn on this stress-respons just by thought alone. We can lay in our bed and worry, this will get our hearts racing and keep us up all night. When being chronically in this state people become addicted to a life they don’t even like, by running circuits of the painful past or anticipating the fearful future. The body controls the mind and vice versa in this mode of survival, focused on the external. It is a fact that the long term effects of the hormones of stress are down regulating the gene expression in our bodies. If we can do that by thought alone, peoples thoughts can make them sick.
Recent studies have shown chronic stress has several impacts on certain areas in the brain. Pre-frontal cortex usually covers decision making skills, planning, social behavior, regulates our impulses and decides whether it is safe or not. When in a chronic neuro-emotional state of stress these get compromised. There will be trouble focussing, memory loss, loss of impuls control, emotional overreacting and complaints of sudden anxiety. Our brain also has an emotion-regulation system, when we experience something in stress our emotional reaction to this event is more vivid and we will remember this intenser. This safety mechanism is build-in for pure survival, next time you walk into a lion you’ll know to hide. Research showed that this connection in chronic stress can cause panic disorders and even depression. The assessment of a possible danger is defect and events will be experience extremer and fearfuller, this happens in post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Thankfully there are a million ways to down regulate this stress cycle and help your body adapt to stress.