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Living with chronic stress over long periods

2020-03-12

 

What we commonly understand as stress arises whenever parts of our limbic system decide that a situation is "dangerous" for us. The limbic system, an old part of the brain, makes it's assessments based on it's past experiences. Experiences from long ago, and often from childhood and infancy. Yes, situations that are safe for adults are still classified as "dangerous" based on formative experiences.

 

How do we react to danger? We fight or flee. Both require a lot of energy in the muscles. That is why the limbic system turns on our stress apparatus, with the subsequent release of stress hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol) into the blood stream.

 

From an evolutionary stand point, this made a lot of sense. Because to escape a saber-toothed tiger, people either had to run fast or fight for their lives. The stress hormones were later dissippated through physical exertion.

 

Nowadays, however, in our modern lives, our fight-flight system gets triggered excessively, and yet the stress reduction through physical exertion does not occur. What happens next is interesting. Our bodies get used to the presence of stress hormones and we mistake them for the feeling of being relaxed. However this new 'rest' state is at a more aroused level than normal baseline rest. The new state of rest is therefore actually a state of restlessness, but is not perceived as such. Over time, our "rest level" rises more and more, and burnout is the result.

 

If stress hormones are in our body system over the long term, this has a number of additional negative consequences. Cortisol, for example, reduces the production of sex hormones in both men and women. Mental stress in men is coupled with a reduced concentration of testosterone (male sex hormone). Disorders of the sex drive are not uncommon.

 

The immune system is also damaged by cortisol. There are fewer immune cells and antibodies circulating in the blood. But it gets worse. Nerve cells in the brain, especially the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and remembering, are permanently damaged. The capability of the hippocampus is reduced.

 

Another negative aspect of high blood cortisol levels is that glucose utilization is reduced. Therefore, fat accumulation increases especially around the waist and hips.

 

Adrenaline and noradrenaline drive up the heart rate, pulse and circulation. If they are constantly in our system, high blood pressure, heart problems and even heart attacks are the result.

 

What can we do to reverse chronic stress, which can also be the result of trauma? Kinesiology has effective methods to help:

 

a) Destressing conscious memories.

b) It increases resilience by changing attitudes.

c) It specifically reduces stress and energy imbalances in the brain. The kinesiological muscle test shows which areas or systems are affected. By holding suitable acupressure points, energy is balanced and thus de-stressed. Imaging techniques in brain research have now shown that some acupressure points are connected to the brain.

d) It relieves our anger, fear and panic systems in the brain.

e) It balances the autonomic nervous system so that there is a balance between sympathetic (tension) and parasympathetic (relaxation).

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