It is well known that stress is a natural response of the body to various demands from the outside world. Our brains then our physical bodies have several well-known reactions to stress, also known as stress responses.
When it comes to stress, we have largely heard about the fight or flight response, which is the survival instinct when we had an attack by a wild animal or something in nature. Now there is a 3rd effect called “freeze” or “deer in headlights”, where the person is totally internalizing and recapturing the original event as if it is real and happening again and just freezes like a deer in headlights.
Well modern-day stress is very different because most of the threats are not real. Let me say that again, most threats are not REAL, no matter what the media might portray, However, many educated people think that today’s stress is considerably higher, more frequent, and more consistent than what our predecessors experienced.
From the news to the computer screens to our telephones and road rage along with a 40+ hour workweek that we’re fearful of losing, to terror threats, stress is an ongoing condition.
The thing is, stress is not always negative and there is a distinction between good and bad stress.
Some healthy stresses keep us alert, motivated, and moving forward.
Unhealthy stresses that are consistently triggered as in the case of PTSD can wear down the body because it’s important to know that our body’s ability to cope with these stressors in our life has an effect on our health.
What are some of the symptoms of being in stress? Irrational anger, anxiety, having asthma attacks, being depressed, having stomach problems, headaches; heart palpitations; weight problems; pain in your joints; and colds and flu’s. Due to a low immune system you might have aches in your lymph system and you can even have irregular heartbeats along with high blood pressure.
What are some things that you can do to keep your mind and body in a healthy? Well eating appropriately with less sugar, good eating habits, optimistic thinking; good sleep walking/exercising; and meditation. Sometimes reaching out to friends and family can help as long as it doesn’t become a pity party.
Other unhealthy responses to stress include constant worrying, negative thinking to the point of creating a disaster, and hyperventilating, being so overly rotten and tired that you start eating poorly and don’t care of yourself, not getting enough sleep, and staying isolated from other people.
The key thing to health is to be feel as if you’re part of a community.
As stated before, constantly being under stress can have an effect on your health. In fact, many medical studies show that a steady level of stress has an effect on our white blood cells. It’s the white blood cells that help fight viruses and infections, which is why when you’re under stress you tend to get more colds and more flus. Your immune system has become compromised and if stress continues without any kind of rebalancing you could become sick physically and emotionally.
What is more important is not just that the stressor is no longer around, but it’s your constant imagining of that original stressor keeping you in a stress loop, which is really what PTSD is.
#1 Make sure you get enough sleep and good sleep too. You must have at least four sleep cycles which are normally 90 minutes each, preferably five, which means you would get seven ½ hours of sleep. These sleep cycles are important for your brain and healing as well as your body. (If you get a chance find out your biorhythms during the day, you can maximize the best times for being active, passive, and having your couch potato time)
#2 Eat good healthy food and stay off fake or real sugar. Go with Stevia, a plant-based sugar, if you need something sweet. Good, healthy vegetables, fruits, protein, complex carbohydrates, and good healthy fats (no fake butter) should be part of your meals. Chemicals just make things worse. Watch your caffeine levels and try not to drink any caffeine later in the afternoon depending on your schedule.
#3 If you’re at a 9-to-5 type of job and you’re sitting, make sure you get up every 60 to no more than 90 minutes and move around. Go take a couple minute walk even if you have to go to the bathroom and if you can at lunchtime take a 10 minute catnap (there is something significant in the body about taking short little naps during the day that can help revive and support you to keep going)
#4 Not only is it important to have physical exercise, but it is very important to practice meditative exercise, especially if you have a hard time quieting your mind. Use meditation tapes with binaural beats that can support your brain to unplug, relax, and change any chemical imbalance in your brain. (Ask me how you can get your own meditation tape either specially made or one that I have in stock, www.heartmindliving.com) And if you live near a labyrinth, walk the path and meditate, many hospitals now have them for patients.
#5 Play, Play, Play. Become a kid AGAIN, play games, jump rope, play hopscotch or really get out there and play in the mud. Sit down and watch comedy movies, or TV shows that make you have belly laughs. My nephew at 10 loved the Captain Underpants books, today when I see the movie previews, all I hear in my mind are his hoots and hollers before he went to sleep. Now that is an anchor, a trigger that can be healthy for you, After all, Laughter really is the best medicine, many people heal themselves through laughter.
#6 Get many hugs throughout the day, whether it be from your friends’ family and/or Pets. Of course if your family creates some of the stressors try something else. You can even hug yourself although it’s a far nicer to get a hug from another loving person.
#7 Finally Breathe. Breathe in for a count of 4-8 seconds, hold your breath for that time, and then let out your breath for the same amount of time so it’s almost like you have a rhythm. As I said, you could start out with a count of four and build up to an eight or more, but it’s important to hold the breath in, and then out. Hold inhales and exhales with the same count.
Kat Mierswa holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. She continues to study, read and research about the brain and effects on behavior. Her thesis was titled, The Dance of Change, and is re-writing it for future publication.
Growing up with a father who experienced 2 wars, who almost died in one and returned home with PTSD, Kat learned first about the problem.
However, it was not until Kat experienced her own trauma, an 8.2 earthquake lasting 62 seconds, that was so bad, the earth literally groaned and trees swayed back and forth 4 feet, that she finally experienced and stopped questioning the DSM description of PTSD.
June 9 2017