Our bodies are amazing and have evolved over millions of years, however, we still retain many of our bodies more primitive responses. Long ago, when our ancestors were hunter gatherers, their quick responses to danger saved their lives, the ‘fight or flight’ response is a primitive response triggered by the limbic system in response to a perceived threat, be it real or imagined. This was an extremely effective survival mechanism which enabled them to take flight from a threat or expend energy and fight. Today, we no longer have to run away from woolly mammoths, however, the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism remains.
For our ancestors, most stressors that they faced were from physical threats but in the modern world, stressors we face are more likely to be psychological but the same ‘fight or flight’ response’. The stress response that we experience can be explained as a disparity between our perceived demands of a situation and our perceived ability to cope with the demands of the situation. Modern life is dynamic and things happen which mean we have to adjust psychologically and the more we have to adjust, the more stressful the thing is.
During the ‘fight or flight’ response, the body in response to the perceived ’emergency’ produces a number of hormones such as ACTH, adrenaline, and noradrenaline and corticosteroids. Adrenaline and noradrenaline have an arousing effect; stimulating the heart rate and blood pressure and the mobilization of energy reserves for a quick get away. Our bodies are highly efficient and in times of stress, ‘resources’ are focused on the areas for either a quick getaway or a fight; blood and other resources are directed away from the non-essential areas, such as the digestive and reproductive systems. Our bodies stress response provides us with the resources for physical action, however, if the stressor is psychological, the energy provided has nowhere to go.
In instances of a long lasting psychological stressor occurring with a physical responsive over a long period of time, the stress can have a damaging effect on the body.
A prolonged, increased level of ‘stress’ hormones results in the body being on ‘high alert’ for lengthy periods of time with no respite. This can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure and increased levels of fatty acids and glucose in the blood stream from the energy reserves. When the body activates its stress response, certain parts become highly active and the body shuts down the function of others. Whilst the blood supply is prioritized, the digestive system is not. Our immune system in stress situations is inhibited; this complex system protects our bodies from infection and helps repair our body tissue. As everything it focused on escape, during a period of stress, our bodies put protection and repair on hold until the stress/danger has past. In the short term, this is an extremely successful strategy, however, prolonged activation of the stress response and shutting down of the body’s non-essential systems can lead to problems and serious illness.
The following are some of the illnesses believed to be related to stress:
Hypertension – raised blood pressure due to furring up of the cardiovascular system
Atherosclerosis – wearing away of the blood vessel lining through raised blood pressure, formation of plaques and scarring, leading to blocked blood vessels
Stroke – caused by plaques blocking the tiny blood vessels in the brain
Raised blood pressure – can cause a brain haemorrhage
Coronary heart disease – caused by the damage to the functioning of the heart
Other illnesses related to and exacerbated by stress are migraine, asthma, gastric ulcers and eczema. Prolonged and longstanding suppression of the immune system can leave our bodies vulnerable to infection and disease and a reduction in the function of the immune system.
The stress hormones have a complex effective on the body and also impact on the release of other hormones by the pituitary gland. The stress response can disrupt the pituitary’s secretion of hormones, leading to a number of problems. The pituitary gland controls sexual and reproductive functions; the stress response can lead to a lack of sexual desire and erectile problems in men through a decline in testosterone production and in women, the menstrual cycle can be disrupted and sexual desire reduce.
Hypnosis for stress and anxiety
We all deal with stress and stress events differently, however, chronic stress can lead to physical illness. Our bodies are sometimes stuck in the ‘fight or flight’ response, this is because the unconscious mind does not distinguish between a real or imagined threat and also the reason is physical. With hypnotherapy, you use hypnosis, your unconscious mind can be re-programmed to response in accordance with reality rather than what has been perceived and teach relaxation techniques and strategies so that you can move forward with your life.
Are feelings of anxiety and stress dominating your life? Feeling anxious or stressed? Do you want to learn to manage your stress and control those anxious feelings and get yourself back on track? Contact Jill , a West Yorkshire Hypnotherapist in Brighouse to discuss how hypnosis for anxiety and stress can help you to reduce your stress and manage your feelings of anxiety on 07866 089909 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.