What is Stress?
Stress is the body’s response to perception. It may seem that it comes from outside — people or situations, but these are the triggers that cause the body’s reaction.
Stress is the survival response – Fight, flight, freeze response.
It is designed to keep us safe in a dangerous or life-threatening situations. This is useful when we have to react quickly to avoid an accident, run from someone who could hurt us or get out of the way of a deadly snake. These are acute situations and the body prepares us to run or fight by raising the respiratory and heart rate and sending blood to the extremities where it is needed.
Most of the time these days, the source of stress is chronic and low grade. Small everyday stresses that don’t threaten our lives and are only perceived as dangerous, but the stress response is the same. The adrenal glands produce high amounts of cortisol, the stress hormones, and they make us fat because cortisol goes to our stomach area, ages us and we can’t think clearly.
Other physical symptoms of stress include chest pain, headache, low energy, and constriction of the blood vessels. When the blood flow is obstructed, this causes high blood pressure, which is one of the risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Chronic stress is a result of excessive stress levels and can cause irritability, concentration problems, racing thoughts, chronic pain and sleep disorders. To put it in a nutshell, overwhelming stress can take a toll on our physical and mental health and reduce our quality of life if it’s not addressed properly.
Analysing the Signs of Stress During Stressful Times
The fact that there are different sources of stress cannot be denied, therefore, every person has his or her own stress reaction. Stress can affect people in different ways: some people suffer from physical stress, others may suffer from financial stress, while others might be dealing with psychological stress.
Two people can experience the same stressful life events, and while one will feel the effects of stress, the other won’t.
It’s not the event causing the response but how the person sees, hears and responds to it from their perception and what they believe to be true.
To cite an example, there are two motorists driving in peak hour traffic. Here’s the scenario:
Person 1 – Gets angry, impatient, aggressive, upset and stressed
Person 2 – Sits back, puts on music, relaxes and enjoys the time alone or with someone in the car with them.
Same situation, two different perspectives:
Person 1 – Witnessed their father, when they were a child, angry, impatient, stressed and aggressive when driving and they learnt that this is how you react in traffic.
Person 2 – Had a parent who loved listening to music in the car and always sang and seemed to be enjoying the drive.
The past is over but subconsciously, these two people learned how to behave in a car from their past experiences.
“Human beings have a great capacity for sticking to false beliefs with great passion and tenacity.”
“The character of our life is based upon how we perceive it.”
Perception is how we view the world based on our past experiences, then we act and live from the meaning the mind gives to everything in life. Everybody has different experiences so we all perceive and react to stressful events differently even in the same or a similar situation.
Even our perception of stress can affect us depending on if we believe it is bad for us or not.
Stress: The Mind-Body Connection
It’s been long established that the mind and body are closely connected. Now, research has found that the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of stress could add decades to our lives. Yep. Decades.
Research from Harvard has found that reframing stress as helpful, rather than harmful, is an effective stress management technique that can improve performance and reverse the physiological changes brought about by stress.
In the first of its kind, a massive study of almost 30,000 participants explored the relationship between the experience of stress, the perception of how stress affects mental and physical health, and mortality. Researchers used data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Here’s what they found:
- The risk of premature death was increased if people who were experiencing stress believed that stress would adversely impact their health.
- Those who reported experiencing high stress and who also believed that stress adversely affected health had a 43% increase in the risk of premature death.
- Those who experienced high stress but didn’t believe it to be harmful were at the lowest risk of dying – even lower than people who didn’t experience a lot of stress.
So, how do we change our way of thinking? Have you been trying to change consciously or using coping strategies but those stressed feelings still show up when you least expect them to?
This is subconscious programming running in the background trying to keep you safe.
There are many healthcare providers who can assist you in relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation, among many other ways to keep stress at bay. Why shifting to a healthy diet and regular exercise are also worth adding to your stress management plan.
If you’ve done everything in your power and still don’t feel any different, you may look into these helpful resources.
Brain plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity, is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. As we gain new experiences, some connections are strengthened while others are eliminated. This process is known as synaptic pruning.
Neurons that are used frequently develop stronger connections, and those that are rarely or never used eventually die. By developing new connections and pruning away weak ones, the brain is able to adapt to the changing environment. Read more here.
Recent research has found that memories are not fixed or permanent and update every time they are visited. The negative ones have more emotional charge and are the ones that can get worse over time.
You will find a great interview here with Physiological Scientist Julia Shaw on False Memories.
Daniela Schiller is a neuroscientist and in this video she explains memory reconsolidation and how our memories change. We don’t need drugs to do this; eutaptics® FasterEFT™ is a system that uses Fundamental Principles, the latest Research, directed mindfulness, proven techniques and bad/good collapse so you can change the way you perceive your past, which will change how you view and operate in your world now and in the future.
When you change memories, you are not changing history or what really happened. It is just changing the way your mind perceives a past experience.
When we change past experiences to ones that are positive, our perceptions and beliefs change so we no longer have a negative response when we are triggered.
What we focus on is what we attract, and we are always creating our present and future from our past experiences, so it makes sense to change how we perceive our past so that we are creating a more positive future for ourselves.