When you are in a stressful situation, your body may react by going into “fight or flight “ mode, pumping out stress hormones, raising blood pressure and pulse, and redirecting blood away from your organs towards your legs and arms to prepare the body for “flight” . This would be important if you needed to get away from a wild animal, but today we are less likely to find ourselves needing to get away from a wild animal.
Normally for a healthy person, the body bounces back to normal once the stressful times are over . Many people get stuck in fight of flight mode. This is especially true when people find themselves dealing with chronic health conditions or a family or work related situation that they cannot handle. The chronic stressors become a self perpetuating vicious cycle . This situation can then lead to anxiety . People sometimes try and reduce the anxiety by avoiding the feared situation altogether. This avoidance instantly decreases the anxiety because you have not put yourself in a distressing situation. However, while avoidance makes anxiety better in the short term you have also made the anxiety worse in the long term . The automatic nervous system,which controls body functions such as heart rate, breathing, digestion etc .
When you are in a life or death situation, you don’t need to digest, detox or regulate cell regeneration, functions of the parasympathetic system. Your priority is to get away from danger for survival . Once you are safe , your parasympathetic system kicks back in and life gets back to normal. The problem is that modern day life has many people feeling like they are permanently on the ‘ hamster wheel. Compounded by lack of sleep, exercise, poor diet etc . The stress of life can impact bad habits which can lead to other bad habits such as excessive eating and or drinking, depression, lack of social interaction etc .
You know how it feels when you’re overwhelmed with stress; your heart is pumping out of control, your palms sweating, and you feel like there’s a 40 pound weight on your chest, preventing you from catching your breath.
This is the body's natural response to stress known as "fight or flight.” Cortisol the stress hormone is produced to boost energy.
The prolonged release of stress hormones like cortisol can also disrupt various processes in your body, leading to systemic inflammation and a weakened immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses. Sometimes it’s not just daily stress that keeps an individual stuck in sympathetic state, it can be stress from the past that has become stuck in the brain, a concept known as negative plasticity.
Stress, Depression, and Neuroplasticity:
Long periods of overwork , overwhelming stress , sleep deprivation can train your brain to become agitated all the time. If you regularly feel agitated or easily angered, this could be a sign that you have unresolved emotional issues.
When triggered too often or left on for too long this fight or flight state can wreak havoc on your health — especially if you are already dealing with chronic illness.
Dr Gabor Mate is a good source of information on trauma and the effects of trauma. You will find his podcasts etc wherever you normally listen to them.
“Trauma is not what happens to you. Trauma is what happens inside you, as a result of what happens to you.”
If you feel anxious, or anticipate feeling anxious, it makes sense that you will do things to reduce your anxiety. People sometimes try and reduce the anxiety by avoiding the feared situation altogether. This avoidance instantly decreases the anxiety because you have not put yourself in a distressing situation. However, while avoidance makes anxiety better in the short term you have also made the anxiety worse in the long term.
One important step in this cycle is gradually confronting feared situations. This will lead to an improved sense of
confidence, which will help reduce your anxiety and allow you to go into situations that are important to you.
Some people might encourage you to tackle your biggest fear first – to “jump in the deep end” and get it over and done with. However, many people prefer to take it “step- by-step”. You start with situations that are easier for you to handle, then work your way up to more challenging tasks. This allows you to build your confidence slowly.
Other things to try :
Exercise, Meditation, seek professional guidance.
Eat a healthy wholesome diet.
Get out in nature daily . Take time away from the stressors .
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