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LEARN ABOUT STRESS RESPONSE & HOW TO INFLUENCE IT
Learn how stress response works
There is a section of our brains known as the amygdala. It is involved with how we experience emotions. It is also the BIG RED BUTTON. Whenever our brain feels a type of threat or detects fear, the amygdala releases chemicals that send the body into a “fight or flight” mode. This means that the body physically prepares itself to either fight the threat, or escape from it. Because our brain acts as a survival mechanism, the amygdala constantly scans our environment for threats, and if it senses one, it presses the red button to alert us just in case. But here is the big question – what is a threat, and how real are these threats? Are these threats made up? Is there an old, false belief behind the ‘threat’? Is the threat a pattern or is it an association to just one single event? Let’s find out what is really behind these threats that are making our amygdala hit the red button. Keep in mind that the brain is here to protect us, and it does not always know the difference between a real experience and an imaginary one.
Automatic thinking patterns
Stress responses are often carried out automatically and within milliseconds. This can be a great functionality because if there should be a real threat, we can be on alert immediately. The problem is that most of the time there are not real threats; even so, the stress responses still respond within milliseconds. And the more we respond to these non-threats, the faster we build up stress chemicals that will affect us in the future. Why do we respond, even when we consciously know that the situation is not a threat to our lives? The answer is that we may have had a bad experience in the past that leads our amygdala to perceive that experience as a threat, and we reacted by activating the “fight or flight” mode in our nervous system. That specific situation was saved as a new “threat file” in the brain, and it will always be used when a similar situation happens. It becomes a hardwired pattern in the brain. Because the brain does not know the difference between a real threat and a false one, the pattern kicks in when the threat appears, and it becomes stronger. Learn how to break such patterns and how to build new ones. It requires consistent practice and discipline, but it can be done.
Living under continuous releases of stress hormones can lead to addiction
Addiction is very common. People can get addicted to drugs, alcohol, gaming, sugar, and other well-known behaviors. But addiction is just the body asking for specific chemicals in order to get an emotional “hit”. The more we experience that emotion, the more our body gets used to the chemicals and like that, an addiction is formed. If the emotion is no longer felt because the situation has improved, the body starts to tease the mind to produce the thoughts that created the emotion, and consequently the chemicals are released again. The same thing happens with stress. We live under continuous stress hormones like cortisol, and we become addicted to it. A small test to see if you are already addicted to cortisol: observe your free days, and take note if you start to get upset about things you usually don’t do. There is an explanation for this behavior. If you are having continuous stress responses during your workdays, your body gets fed almost all the time with stress chemicals, and it becomes used to it. During your weekends and vacations, you have less stress responses, so your body misses the chemicals and sends signals to the brain to do something about it. Thoughts are produced in order to re-create the emotion in order to release the needed chemicals to satisfy the body.
All stress is not bad! Change the perception
Stress is typically viewed as being bad. We know it can drain our energy and even harm our system. So we attempt to avoid stress on all costs. But all stress does not equal bad stress – there is positive stress, too. The positive stress fuels you with energy and gives you the push to achieve your goals. The key is to reframe the situation and apply another perception to the stress sources. Since stress response is almost always initiated in the subconscious mind, changing the perception requires practice and patience. Reframing and changing the perception requires different strategies and tools; some tools will be short-term and others will be long-term. But most importantly, it requires consistency and commitment. .
Powerful techniques to reduce stress response during your daily life
The need for practical tools and strategies to manage stress response is bigger than ever. There is a long-term approach, which requires us to understand and re-program the subconscious mind, and there are short term tools that can be used when the stress response starts to increase. Here are examples of very effective tools to manage stress response:
Breathing and calming down the circuits. Taking slow and deep breaths like 5-4-8: inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 4, exhale for 8.
EFT, emotional freedom technique, also known as tapping. Thinking about what is stressing you out while you simultaneously tap along specific meridian endpoints on your body.
NLP techniques- Swish Pattern. Imagine the bad image and feel the emotions of a memory. Then create a new target or goal picture, imagine the new emotions and details, and then *swissshhhh* the new one using your mind’s eye. This action changes the emotional associations to an experience by creating a new feeling or emotion.
How to put it all together, change your life, and pursue your dreams
According to traditional psychology one reason for anxiety, is created due to having less serotonin in the brain. Why do we have less serotonin in the brain, and what can we do about it? The first treatment is often prescription drugs such as antidepressants which, according to studies, slow down the uptake of the hormone serotonin in the brain, therefore leaving the brain in a prolonged, better mood. Sounds good, but these medications have many other side effects that might create even more stress. Is that our only option, and is it even a solution? There is one major key that needs to be understood: serotonin is created in the gut. If the food we eat on an ongoing basis is junk such as gluten, processed foods, and sugars, we won’t get enough serotonin, and this can cause damage to the gut. We must heal our guts to heal our minds. The gut and the brain are in constant communication. If we do not create enough serotonin, the gut signals to the brain “you have to do something,” and in turn, your brain might tell you that you crave sugar. Sugars release short-term dopamine, which may feel good, but it does not last long. In addition to eating healthier foods, it is important that we move our body and get some exercise on a daily basis, even if it’s just taking a walk. Slowly lower or eliminate your sugar and gluten intake. Go outside, take a brisk walk and enjoy nature and the fresh air. These simple actions can heal your gut and help you acquire a healthy mind.
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