Stress is the underlying cause of many issues that people face in the world these days. We obviously have heard the word stress, and have experienced it at some point in our lives, but do we really know what happens inside the body during the stress response? In most cases, the answer is likely NO.
The first step towards learning to manage our stress is understanding what is happening inside our body when we get stressed out. When we experience a stress response, our brain perceives a threat to our safety. In response to this “threat”, our nervous system goes into a state of hyperactivity. An overactive nervous system causes symptoms such as an accelerated heart rate, rapid breathing, and sweaty palms just to name a few.
The proper name for the state of hyperactivity in the nervous system is called the Fight or Flight Response. This term was created in reference to our prehistoric ancestors, the caveman. When caveman experienced a REAL threat to their lives their bodies would go into this state of over activity in fear of their lives. If they encountered a life-threatening situation, they would have two choices: run or fight!
Back in prehistoric times, this was a necessary survival mechanism in a hunter and gatherer world. Fast forward to today’s world, and the human body has exactly the same biological reaction to perceived threats! The issue here is that we live in a world where there are adequate safeguards in place so we do not have to fear being hunted by wild animals, but our body still reacts as if there is a legitimate threat to our life when we get stressed out.
The danger here lies in the fact that entering into this state of over activity places enormous amounts of pressure on our body. We get stressed out over many insignificant events throughout the day, causing our body to go into a fight or flight response. Constantly putting our bodies through this stress response wreaks all kinds of havoc over the long run.
When we come to realize the true nature of the stress response and its harmful effects on the body, we may begin to reevaluate the little things that cause us to go into such a dramatic state. The truth is that in most cases your life is not in danger, so we need to learn ways to cope with stress and control our nervous system.
At the most fundamental level, the only way to control the nervous system is by learning to control the breath. This simple fact is why meditation is such a powerful practice.
Practice deep breathing to control your nervous system and eliminate unnecessary stress from your life!!
To be continued…