Chronic stress changes the way your brain handles it.
Think back to prehistoric times when cave men and women were facing real danger like ferocious animals trying to make meals out of them. The brain was created to deal with fight or flight moments such as this but not the everyday anxieties related to relationships, work, schedules, etc…
Unfortunately, the brain cannot decipher between what is real danger and what is emotionally-charged stress, so it reacts to both scenarios in the same way. Remember the last time you had a deadline at work and felt anxious because you just knew you couldn’t finish in time, and that your job and family were on the line—even though you have another 48 hours before deadline. Or your teenager is out past curfew and won’t answer the phone, so you start to worry that he/she has been in a bad car accident and you blame yourself for being a bad parent—even though nothing has happened yet.
Notice how in these situations just like in prehistoric times your muscles get tense, your palms get sweaty, your heart starts beating faster, your stomach tightens, your mind is alert, and you are ready to launch into action. However, it seems like there is nothing you can physically do to stop the imagined danger, because it is all in your head.
Our body’s reaction to stress can be a good thing. The rush of adrenaline makes our focus sharper and increases our energy level to overcome whatever challenge is in front of us. But…
What if you get stressed out on a daily basis?
Your body continues to respond the same way even though there is no resolution to its reaction. Soon your body becomes reactive all the time, over things and situations that wouldn’t have normally caused you stress.
Living in survival mode is dangerous to your health.
The Los Angeles Times reports, “The chemical reaction to stress in the brain is for short-term danger. Frequent stress weakens the system and causes problems.”
The results of long term stress mean that the body’s natural reaction becomes its own worst enemy. According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic stress can cause depression, sleep problems, digestive problems, obesity, and heart disease. Each one of these health problems relates back to a direct response your body signals at the sign of danger (stress).
Over the years, you may also pick up negative self coping strategies to deal with your body’s constant reaction-engaged response like smoking cigarettes, abusing alcohol, emotionally eating, and/or isolating yourself from the rest of the world. Eventually these negative coping strategies begin to rule the way your body responds to stress, leading a direct link from your body’s reaction to a very bad resolution. These coping strategies combined with chronic stress doubles your chances of getting one of the aforementioned health problems.
If you or someone you know is dealing with chronic stress and/or using negative self coping strategies, please reach out for help. Changing the way people deal with chronic stress means changing the way their brain has adapted to this lifestyle. It’s not always easy to recognize behavioral patterns when it’s become accustomed to your daily life.
Let us help you balance your life and find an inner sense of freedom.
LA Times: Our body’s old response to modern stress can be dangerous–
Mayo Clinic: Stress Management– http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/SR00001