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  • Writer's pictureMichelle

We once lived in caves

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Stress can be exhausting, especially when there is 24-hour news and social media streams constantly bombarding us with ‘bad’ news. But stress was absolutely designed to serve a purpose in our lives – to help us survive.

Let’s face it, life was dangerous back then and we needed quick responses to help us survive. Enter the fight or flight response.

Fight or flight engages hormonal changes and physiological responses.

Firstly, we perceive something as a threat and our brain sounds an alarm. This is then communicated to our body via the sympathetic nervous system (like a volume button being turned up). Commonly, this involves adrenaline and cortisol and we experience such things as: heart beating faster, more blood pumping to muscles and organs, a short term increase in energy, increased pulse and blood pressure, more rapid breathing resulting in more oxygen to the blood, and increased alertness.

Once the threat passes, the parasympathetic nervous system (the volume down button) kicks in and activates the relaxation response. This can be a period of tiredness or exhaustion. Think moods such as peace, calm, contentment and security.

You on stress

Stress can affect our body in a range of ways:

  • Headaches

  • Heartburn

  • Rapid breathing

  • Feeling emotionally down

  • Insomnia

  • Racing or pounding heart

  • Reduced libido

  • High blood pressure

  • Stomachache

  • Weakened immune system

  • Irregular menstruation cycles

  • Muscle tension

  • Increased sweating

  • Decreased concentration

  • Irregular bowel movements

  • Low energy

  • Dizziness

  • Neck or shoulder pain

Emotionally, we can feel:

  • Restless

  • Agitated

  • Sensitive

  • Irritable

  • Insecure

  • Forgetful

  • Hopeless

  • Anger

  • Guilt

  • Defensive

  • Anxious

  • Intolerant

We can act in strange ways:

  • Avoidance

  • Decreased attention to our appearance

  • Foot tapping

  • More or less eating

  • Teeth clenching

  • More or less talking

  • Withdrawal

  • More alcohol use

Right – now we know what is happening, I want to say again: in times of crisis, all of this is perfectly normal!

The important thing is that you don’t remain in a stressed state for prolonged periods of time. The good news is that there are many simple ways to decrease your levels of stress and increase your levels of relaxation.

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