Stress – 101
By looking at these deer, you wouldn’t think they knew anything about stress. But to the contrary, they know it all too well. Humans have the same innate mechanisms that helps to rebound & reset our nervous systems after encounters with stress.
I thought a good place to start was with a basic understanding of the stress response system, what it is and how it affects the body and brain. A stress response system:
- Is a biological process that is hard wired within us and is a survival mechanism
- Is activated by environmental & sensory clues that send messages to the brain through the nervous system
- Mobilizes your body to deal with the threat i.e.: flight, flight or freeze response
- Shuts down your brain (cortex) as it isn’t needed in this process
- Activates the relaxation response i.e.: breathing, sends message to sub cortex that danger has passed
- Ensures that stress hormones exit the body and brain returns to natural baseline state
Too much stress is not a good thing and can have long lasting effects such as:
- When continually on high alert it is more difficult to return to baseline state
- If constantly elevated, it results in more reactive, anxious and fear based responses
- Overall health – physically, mentally & emotionally
As we continue to learn about stress we will learn more about its effects but perhaps more importantly, how to be resilient and handle stress in a way that doesn’t overwhelm our systems and in fact supports us.