The many facets of stress
It’s useful to understand what stress is and how it affects our mind and body, so we can effectively manage it and live a better life……
The term “stress” is commonly used interchangeably for both the actual feeling of stress (e.g. “All these preparations for the event are stressing me out”), as well as what causes that feeling in a person (e.g. “The amount of stress in the workplace is causing people to get sick”). It also takes on many forms (social, physical, psychological, metabolic, etc.) and in varying degrees ( low, chronic, acute, etc.). Everyone seems familiar with the term and we seem to use it a lot, but what is stress really?
Biologically speaking, stress is the body’s reaction to an existing or perceived situation or a threat to its equilibrium.
Basically, any kind of cellular activity is actually a form of stress as far as your brain is concerned. That’s why even happy events like weddings, promotions or the birth of a child can cause stress. It’s a call to act, to adapt. It is a very useful survival tool, but the body cannot remain in that state for very long. This is because when our neurons fire up, it uses energy and the process creates wear and tear on the cell. That’s why stress drains us, and even more so with chronic stress. The primitive and the intellectual
It’s important to note that stress is not a modern invention or even one that is a byproduct of modernization.
It has actually been an essential part of our evolution. Even cavemen experienced stress– they had to think about where to get their food, how to stay safe from the predators that lurked around them, how to survive the winter months, etc. The main difference between the modern man and the caveman is how we use our brains to deal with the stress around us. In order to understand this difference better, it’s important that we first find out what the brain is like and how it functions.
Our brain has two main parts: The intellectual mind and the primitive mind.
The intellectual mind is the conscious part of our brain, the area that we use to be aware of our interactions with the world. This bit uses logic to properly assess the situation and come up with solutions and is generally very positive. The other part of the brain is the original primitive part. This bit controls our fight/flight emotions or initial reactions, records our behavioural experiences and patterns, and regulates chemical responses in the body and mind. The primitive mind is a negative mind because it always sees things from the worst possible scenario. It is vigilant because it perceives that there are dangers around and therefore it stays alert to keep safe. It is also obsessive because once it encounters a threat, it never lets up and has to constantly check if that threat has come back. Being negative, obsessive and vigilant definitely helped save the lives of many cavemen. But because the primitive mind doesn’t innovate and can only respond based on emotion and its past experiences, it comes up with primitive responses like depression, anxiety, and anger. When the cave man looked out of the cave and there was snow or ice or danger and he couldn’t go out to hunt (indeed, a stressful situation), he pulled the rug over his head and powered down to save energy because he constantly faced the fear of not knowing where his next meal will be coming from. These responses have been carried over by evolution and are the modern day symptoms of depression and anxiety. Anger was just the caveman’s way of increasing his strength to defend himself against wild animals and other wild tribesmen.
The smart & modern solution
As useful as these primitive responses were to the caveman’s survival, they are no longer appropriate responses to the stresses that we face today in the modern world.
That’s why it’s important to recognize when the primitive mind is taking over when we encounter stress and to learn to redirect the thinking back to the intellectual mind, because that’s the part that can create solutions.
Our expert practitioners at Changes Welcome have an excellent grasp of what goes on in our brains when we get stressed and understand what needs to be done to help each client with stress management. Our practitioners are highly experienced at exploring and finding the solutions, which are right for you. They also employ highly effective methods that support our clients to stay in their intellectual capacity to overcome stress and enjoy life to the fullest.
Read more about Hypnotherapy to Help with Stress.