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Stress & Anxiety, Part 1: How it affects us.

Updated: Apr 21, 2019

When we are anxious, in chronic stress or experience any level of fear, our physiology does a number of things in response to a perceived threat to our survival.  You have probably heard of these:

Our immune system and internal repair mechanisms down-regulate and we are more prone to illnesses as a result.

High levels of stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine) circulate in our blood and, among many other things, they can lead to adrenal exhaustion and burn-out.

Our digestion is impaired and over time this can lead to ulcers and other GI malfunctions.

One of the most interesting things I learned and find very much worth sharing is that, in order to secure our very survival, our blood supply is almost exclusively shunted to our brain stem — also called the reptilian brain.  This happens at the cost of our frontal brain which is thereby almost entirely shut off. 

Regardless of this, we want to be able to use our frontal lobe!  Our frontal brain is where our higher cognitive functions are located:  social behavior, judgment, problem solving, impulse control and more. Our frontal brain is what distinguishes us human beings most from a sheep or an alligator.  I find it so important and motivating to know that by living in a constant state of stress and anxiety we are actually A LOT less intelligent and creative!  Apart from a host of physical and emotional problems, we become more gullible, dull and controllable.

WHY do so many of us live in that state of low grade fear or defense?

Because of a great number of things.  Trauma and difficult life circumstances are obvious and natural triggers.  But there are many more less dramatic ones.  Here, I’ll only mention these two:  

We remember or imagine a stressful situation or simply watch it on TV.  Our brains can’t tell the difference between what’s actually happening, what we create in our minds or see on the screen.  This means that our mental habits alone can cause severe anxiety disorder.

There are a number of ways through which we are exposed to subtle frequencies that (unknowingly and unconsciously) shift our naturally calm state into a more alert and fearful one. The media is one of them. Do your own research on this subject if you find yourself curious.

Life happens and there are many unavoidable circumstances that create stress.  AND we can make CHOICES.  What do we choose to expose ourselves to on a regular basis and how do we manage stress, our bodies and minds?

This is what I’ll write about in my next blog, so check back in.

Much love, Skye

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