The entire medical and health system recognizes the toxic effects of stress on the nervous system. You need to understand that it is your responsibility to protect your mind and body from the very harmful effects of stress. When you are stressed, your body produces one main hormone. This latter is directly toxic to the specific nerve cells that mediate emotions and memory.
Such a powerful statement, by itself, should be an enough reason for you to acquire skills that can help you adapt to high levels of stress. Truth is that tress will always exist; but, it is up to you to be well equipped to redirect your mind and feelings to maintain total well-being.
Stress is everywhere
We are surrounded by stress. Human life can be very stressful, and stress can change in levels and forms, from age to age or among cultures. If the affecting factors are external, you can reduce them by staying away from them as much as possible. You would then be able to identify the elements that bother you; and, make it a goal to stay steer of them.
But, when the stressors are internal. The best way to tame your stress would then be to learn methods that can help you control the pathways of stress in your body. I teach my patients, friends, and people around me how to control these, using very simple techniques.
Before learning how to deal with stress and eliminate its negative effects, you need to understand the human body and how its physiology changes when facing a stressful situation. This article will explain it all.
Your nervous system’s first response to stress?
Stress is manifested in many ways, according to its duration, intensity, acquired coping skills, or lifestyle choices in general. The most important organ affected by stress is your nervous system. Its role is to interact with your adrenal glands, in charge of releasing hormones linked to stress using a specific pathway. The adrenal glands are very small glands that sit on every kidney. they are in charge of making hormones that are necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Some of the adrenal glands’ hormones are sex hormones and cortisol.
Stress links together three different parts of your body: the hypothalamus, adrenals, and pituitary glands. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that links the nervous system to the endocrine system using pituitary glands,
When stress-related hormones start being produced and released by the brain, the physiology of your body begins changing. Over time, major impacts occur that could lead to sickness and unbalance at any level.
The Three Stages of Stress
Stress occurs in three stages: the Alarm Stage, The resistance, and the exhaustion stage. Each of these stages has its characteristics, and, for every stage, there are different re-balancing skills, both internal and external.
The majority of life occurrences expose you to the first two stages, repetitively, since life is full of stressors. But, if this stress is very intense at one specific point or prolonged, that’s when the central nervous system starts malfunctioning leading to exhaustion.
Which part of the Nervous System works when you are stressed?
When studying the relationship between the nervous system and stress, we have to focus on the part of the system called the Autonomic Nervous System that is made of two parts:
1- Part 1: The Sympathetic Nervous System: This is the part of our nervous system that prepares the body to either stay and fight or run away from danger. We refer to it as the “fight or flight response”. It is a very powerful survival mechanism that our body has.
2- Part 2: The Parasympathetic Nervous System: This part lets the nervous system rest, relax, digest and repair. So, it is in charge of eliminating what is not supposed to be there and repair the damages that might have happened. It is what pushes the immune system to work extra hard during the night, while we are sleeping.
“During sleep, your immune system is at its peak!”
When you face a stressful situation, the sympathetic nervous system does its work first; then, it switches off when the stressful situation is handled. This allows the parasympathetic system to kick in, repair any damages and restore internal equilibrium. At that moment, you start calming down.
When you experience a very high level of stress at one specific point or stress over a longer than normal period of time, your autonomic nervous system does not keep up. It breaks down. So, your body might be able to adapt the first times you face stress; but, when the nervous system breaks down, you will be facing stress with no help. That’s when things can really go wrong.
Stress and your body: It is like a Car!
When you face a tremendous amount of stress, daily or at one specific point, your sympathetic nervous system will overwork. Comparing it to a car, this means that the ‘accelerator’ is stuck on the ON button. So, in simpler words, the nervous system is overstimulated to the point that it can no longer switch off. It just does not turn OFF!
As a result, you are continuously in a stressed mode, feel restless, hyperactive, angry, do not sleep restfully, and start developing many bodily malfunctions like hypertension and high muscle tension even at rest.
This means that stress is overstimulating your body and you have no proper internal tools to manage it.
Think of your stress as a car where the sympathetic system is the accelerator and the parasympathetic system is the brakes.
In conclusion, stress is toxic to the entire body and not just your nervous system. It may seem to have a continuous presence in everyone’s life; however, it is your job to understand the many methods that can help neutralize it.
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