Physiological stress happens! It happens thousands of times a day to each one of us.
Stress is a reaction, or a response that occurs naturally in our brain to a real or perceived threat to our body. The stress response happens without thought…
Because the stress response is part of the autonomic nervous system. That is the part of the brain that functions - without thought - to keep us a live...
It is just like how the brain tells your body to breathe without you thinking about it throughout the day.
The stress response alerts us when our innate balance has been threatened...real or perceived.
The body is designed to function best while in balance, or while functioning within normal ranges. When people are chronically stressed, they go to the doctor all the time to see if:
• Their blood pressure is within normal limits
• Their heart rate is between normal limits
• Their blood levels are within normal limits, etc.
• If their body is functioning properly overall
There are three main ways to notice how chronic physiological stress is effecting your life.
Visualize yourself standing with your feet shoulder width apart with your arms outstretched to the sides of your body. This is an image of balance.
Bodies require balance and rest each day in order to function properly.
Now visualize only standing on one leg while your arms are outstretched to the sides of your body. Over time, you would begin to feel how difficult it is to maintain your balance and you would start to wobble or fall over.
This is similar to what happens to the body when we are constantly stressed out, and don’t give your body enough opportunities to rest throughout the day.
That is a major reason why sleep is so important to your over all health and wellbeing. Getting a good night sleep gives your body time to rest and rejuvenate…time to be in balance.
Many of us may first start to notice physiological stress through the physical stress symptoms of:
Neck and back pains
High blood pressure
Elevated heart rate
Can’t get pregnant
Losing or gaining weight
In western culture, most people tend to tolerate physical stress symptoms a little better than we do emotional stress. Most of us are not taught much about emotional health. So, we don’t put as much value on our emotional wellbeing as we do our physical health.
It is the cumulative effect of physiological stress that impacts ones ability to cope with emotional stress:
- Symptoms of anxiety
- Symptoms of depression
- Panic attacks
- Feel angry more of the time
- Need to cry more often
- Can’t seem to relax
- Feel lonely
It is cognitive stress, or our thoughts of uncertainty, that can cause the constant triggering of the stress response.
For instance, if someone were to attack your integrity in some way, your brain will often respond to those words in the same way as if that same person had punched you in the nose.
To the brain, those words would be perceived as a threat to your survival. Because of feeling that threat, the stress response gets triggered and away we go.
Remember that the job of the brain is to help us survive. So, WITH
your thoughts, if you are perceiving
a situation as threatening, then that thought will be interpreted as needing a reaction to protect you.
One way to become aware of how physiological stress may be negatively impacting your life is to notice how much of the time you:
Are constantly worrying?
What are your thoughts of uncertainty?
Feel a need to judge others more?
Are thinking fear-based thoughts?
Have an increased need to be “right”?
- Will I be laid off?
- Will I be able to find a job?
- Will I have enough money to pay my bills?
- Will I be able to pay the rent, take care of my family?
- Will I be healthy again?
- Will I ever feel like my old self again?
- When will the next “thing” happen to me?
- Is my relationship going to last?
- How will I make it to my doctor appointments?
Control Over Physiological Stress
One of my cardiac rehab clients once told me,
“Overcoming stress feels like being on a treadmill to oblivion”.
Who hasn’t felt that way when coping with stress? Life can be really hard sometimes.
But, you CAN
learn how to become more aware of your thoughts. You CAN
learn some simple strategies to do when you start to feel your body is getting out of balance physically and emotionally.
And, you CAN
learn how to manage your physiological stress while in the midst
of your demanding lives and with no one knowing that you are doing anything differently. But, YOU will begin to feel better.
For more information, please see:
Return from Physiological Stress to Main Cause of Stress
Return from Physiological Stress To Coping With Stress Home
Share Your Stress Tips, or Ask Your Question
There is so much to learn and understand about how the stress response works. If you have a question related to the fight or flight response, or the relaxation response, please ask them here.
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