Stress. It is something that we deal with every single day. In copious amounts. Our bodies are meant to know how to react to stress. We were created that way. The problem is that our world has shifted from “occassional” high-intensity stress–where the body reacted and then calmed down–to bodies that believe they are under a constant threat of stress. It’s called Fight or Flight. Due to the current conditions of our world, our bodies often think we are in a constant state of fight or flight.
Generally speaking, the body doesn’t usually do a great job of distinguishing between physical and mental stress. And so with either type of stress, the body floods with natural steroids and adrenaline which cause the immune system to release chemical messengers called inflammatory cytokines that tell the body to go into high alert. (Brain Maker, David Perlmutter, MD, 2015, p 28).
And what does this high alert create? Disease–in all its forms.
Depression and anxiety bring their own brand of stress. Stress about how long a severe episode will last. Stress about how in the world you are going to endure this for the rest of your life. Stress about keeping it all a “secret.” Stress about when the next episode will rear its ugly head. Stress about how you are acting. Stress about not being able to hold down a job. Stress about how long those who love you will be able to handle the fall out…and on and on.
So what can be done? I am a big believer in sitting still, closing my eyes, breathing deeply in and out, several times, and thinking about something that has brought me joy in the past. This is one step towards turning off the Fight or Flight response.
Try it! It matters!
(For an article on this very response, click here.)