Stress Is Not All In Your Head, It Is In Your Nervous System!

By: Anuradha 

We all have been stressed at some point in our life. Stress is such a common thing and even though it is not a nice feeling to be stressed, learning how to get rid of that will be quite useful for all of us. When you are stressed, most of the time people will advise you to get the thought that pressurizes you out of your head and just relaxes. But, we all know that it is not that simple.

The latest psychology research shows that the stress response memory lives in your nervous system and that is why your feel helpless, hopeless and out of control when you are exposed to a stressful event. It is the autonomic nervous system (ANS) that controls the unconscious bodily actions like breathing and it is the part of the nervous system that is being affected when you are under stress.

To be more specific, the sympathetic branch (fight or flight) of the ANS is the specific part that is being affected when you are strained. Moreover, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis of the midbrain also began to fire resulting in releasing a signal from your hypothalamus to pituitary gland and it stimulates the adrenal glands.

Adrenal glands release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to activate this flight or fight response and it helps our body to mobilize to flee danger. Peter A. Levine, a trauma expert says trauma occurs when this biological process is overwhelmed and when a person is unable to release and process a stressful event. So, at such a time it is advisable to avoid traumatic responses by discharging the generated energy through engaging in a physical activity like shaking, crying or screaming.

Stress is not all in your head!

But if the stress response is not processed, it remains in the body tissue and when a subsequent stressful event occurs, the traumatic memory can be recalled. Then, a large amount of stress hormones is released. Blood rushes to extremities, pupils dilate, muscle tone increases, breathing rate increase and sweating occur. Hence, your nervous system responds as if this small incident is life threating. Levine says,

                “The question is how can humans become unstuck from immobility? Moving out of this frozen state can be a fiercely energetic experience. Without a rational brain, animals don’t give it a second thought, they just do it. when humans begin to move out of the immobility response, however, we are often frightened by the intensity of our own energy and latent aggression, and we brace ourselves against the power of the sensations. This bracing prevents complete discharge of energy necessary to restore normal functioning”.

Unprocessed stress is stored in the body as a traumatic memory.

 We all need to have a proper understanding of how our body works, in order to react positively to our bodily reactions. You must keep in your mind that unprocessed stress becomes a traumatic memory and it can resurface even with a little trigger. By understanding our bodies, we can release our stress in a healthier and in a more compassionate way. 

You can practice activities like dancing, yoga, listening to soothing music, spending time in nature, running or hiking to release the stored trauma in an effective way.

So, next time someone suggests you cool down your head when you are stressed, you can tell them what actually should be done and of course, you can practice these little things for a joyful life.