How Stress and Overwhelm Impact Our Bodies
Awareness is the key to shift any behavior. Once you are aware, it is in your power to change your life.
I talk about stress with my clients ALL THE TIME. I want to take a moment to share this information with all of you.
Stress is the cause of almost all mental and behavioral problems and if we talk about long term stress, it is the cause of many illnesses: from depression, anxiety, and how they turn into auto-immune diseases or cancer.
Stress is a symptom of our circumstances. Overwhelm is a symptom of our outside world. Unfortunately, our world is designed to keep our systems in a state of constant stress and overwhelm, it wasn’t always this way. A majority of our system’s health is based on how we choose to experience life. If we are constantly focused on negativity, our parasympathetic nervous system is then put in fight or flight mode, and our immune system kicks into overdrive. This can cause burnout, and eventually lead to larger problems. If we are focused on positivity, our bodies are able to rest and repair themselves. Our overall health and wellbeing starts in the mind and shifts our perspectives. The way we experience life on a daily basis will set the path for our future health.
Let me break down what happens in the mind & body when stress arises:
An event occurs, then a memory related to fear gets triggered, self-doubt creeps in, and our sympathetic nervous system takes over by triggering our adrenal to release cortisol and epinephrine.
In response, our sympathetic nervous system sends signals: your heartbeat goes up, your breathing is shallow and fast, your blood pressure goes up, our pupils dilate and the quick response mechanism kicks on so we make really fast life saving decisions.
This isn’t a problem in short bursts, we were designed to be able to do this to survive in the wild. The problem occurs when our metabolism gets overwhelmed by cortisol. If we go into fight or flight mode too often it can turn your life into a very self-destructive pattern where unhealthy behaviors get activated to cope with stress.
We learned how to cope with stress at a very early age and we learned it from our external environment. Depending on the circumstances of where we were raised we either have physical or emotional coping mechanisms. Both ways of coping can either be positive or negative depending on the example we had growing up. Our individual endurance through stressful situations comes from our family’s example.
For instance: If you are raised in a family where there is ease and love your stress resilience is higher.
On the other hand, if you are raised in a family where there is a lot of stress, yelling, abuse or one of the parents is absent, you will have a shorter stress span and your coping mechanisms will be probably less healthy depending if drinking is involved.
The good news is we can always retrain our brain and mind to be more resilient at the same time we develop healthier coping mechanisms. The most important thing is awareness of the damaging behaviors, whatever it is, drinking, smoking, popping pills, sleep deprivation, binge eating, or Netflix binging. Choose one behavior at the time and implement a new behavior.
What I always tell my clients is, Awareness is the key to shift any behavior. Once you are aware, it is in your power to change your life. Start with a simple choice, and keep going.
To hear more about this subject check out my new Make it Brain Podcast
Gemi is so excited to share cutting-edge content on her Make it Brain podcast. Listen to this week’s episode #3: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Listen now on Spotify and Apple Podcast.
Pre-order the book The Fabulous Brain here