If you were to make an honest evaluation of your life, would you discover that you feel overloaded and stressed-out most of your day? It’s true that we all feel stressed out to some extent—at work, at home, culturally—and we’re all susceptible to money, time, and relationship stress to varying degrees. Our unlimited access to technology, along with a pressure to always be multi-tasking, can also take its toll. But just how serious and debilitating has your stress become, and what does it mean to your health?
In the 1920s, psychologist Walter Cannon was the first to study the long-lasting effects of stress on the human body and brain. From this research, he coined the terms fight-or-flight response and homeostasis, both of which relate to our body’s urge to survive.
The body’s fight-or-flight response is an innate mechanism designed to protect us from injury or attack. Your autonomic nervous system controls these states through the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (homeostatic/rest and recovery) systems.
It’s a highly-efficient system, until chronic stress shows up, throwing the sympathetic system into perpetual high gear and blocking the parasympathetic system. This means we get stuck on high alert, which inhibits our ability to heal, grow, love, and flourish, and leaves no room for creativity, exploration, or contribution.
When we are constantly in sympathetic survival mode, the prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of decision-making, shuts down, leaving us feeling as if we have no choices, exacerbating the stress state, and creating a vicious sympathetic cycle. The end result is Sympathetic Survival Syndrome (SSS), and the implications are enormous. In fact, sleep issues, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other joy-stealing chronic ailments can all be linked to SSS.
What causes SSS?
Cortisol is considered the most powerful hormone in the human body. This is because cortisol’s job is to ensure the body survives, and it does so by turning on the sympathetic nervous system. Cortisol can override the signals of every other hormone. When daily doses of cortisol become excessive, such as in the case of an overstressed lifestyle, SSS develops and its effects can range from anxiety and depression to heart disease, dementia and cancer. SSS many times leads to the abuse of alcohol, food, or drugs as people attempt to cope with the symptoms.
Another of cortisol’s functions is to tell the body to stop tapping into fat, which our brains need to function. Our brains are, in fact, 70 percent fat. High levels of cortisol in the brain creates a barrier, stopping the brain from tapping into fat reserves. This means the brain has to cannibalize itself in order to function. This can lead to shrinkage of the brain, which some researchers believe may be a contributing factor in cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Another side effect of pervasive stress can be adrenal exhaustion, which is in direct correlation to the perpetual over-production of epinephrine (adrenaline). Adrenal exhaustion can have very serious consequences such as excessive fatigue, dangerously low blood pressure, and sleep disturbances.
Now that you know what SSS is, can you think of anyone who isn’t affected by it? Fortunately, there are many ways to turn off your sympathetic mode and activate parasympathetic mode. At BrainTap, we believe a brain-based wellness approach is of extreme importance because positive thoughts and emotions are the most effective reset button for restoring homeostasis. A brain-based wellness approach means that you achieve the relaxation response on a daily basis, which creates an amazing opportunity for you to not only reverse the negative effects of SSS, but also make profound positive changes in your life.
When you engage in braintapping every day, the algorithms shift your breathing, physiology and focus by engaging not just optimistic thoughts, but positive sensations and feelings as well—the kind that turn on the parasympathetic nervous system and lead to homeostasis. In other words, you’re getting an emotional experience, and it’s the experience that makes all the difference. To rediscover freedom from stress in your life, you can CLICK HERE to get access to FREE 15-Day BrainTap Trial. Enjoy!