What is happening when you are stressed?
Stress can be external (think of a sudden loud noise) or internal (for example going into shock). It is a healthy response from your body to a stimulus.
On the physiological level, the hormones that activates the fight or flight response are released and the energy and blood flow are swiftly gathered around the vital organs in preparation for survival.
How does this translate for you is that your body is in alert and ready to react to danger, and to run away for from it. During this brief time, you might experience symptoms such as increased heart rate, faster breathing, extensive sweating and slower digestion among others.
A natural stress response process would look like this:
a Sensory Stimulation
leading to a Reaction
followed by Regulation
(seriously, aren’t those dogs adorable?)
When can you consider stress being a health risk for you?
A stress response is considered to be unhealthy when your body does not regulate and still perceives danger even after the event. This is what happens with Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).
The regular shut down of the body functions and processes can affect your body tremendously and create havoc on your health. This article from the Mayo Clinic explains in simple words the dangerous effects of a long term stress response on your body.
Our bodies are not meant to be on a constant lookout.
Chronic stress can soon become synonym of toxicity, affecting your organs, increasing inflammation and developing chronic illnesses.
People react differently to stress because we are all complex individuals, with different life experiences. As mentioned in the article, trauma survivors are usually very sensitive to stress and sensory stimuli.
Well, you can do something about it, today.
You want to promotes relaxation, with in turn will boost the regulation process. This is why it is vital, for people exposed to high level of stress, to learn to use coping techniques as they will activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
This parasympathetic nervous system controls homeostasis, which means it help maintain an equilibrium that compensates for environmental changes (the stimuli that may trigger you). It also acts on the Rest and Digest response, cell repair and growth, and regulate heart and breathing rhythms.
It might be helpful to consider some of the techniques below:
- Breathing awareness and mindful breathing
- Gentle pranayama such as anuloma viloma (alternate nostril breathing)
- Self-care routines
- Pausing – see my earlier post on the subject.