Brain science is being packaged and repackaged in new and simpler terms every day. A webinar presented by Rick Hanson, PhD, is a great example. He describes what happens on a neurological level with stress.
Stress is an everyday part of living. What triggers stress in one person doesn't in the next. Demands on our time and energy are on the increase. People have different levels of stress in their lives and more importantly, different people react/respond to stress very differently.
In a stressful situation, one person might experience a twinge while another spins out of control ruining their day, or week or worse. This reactive spiraling out of control makes a stressful situation much worse.
Some of the main stressors are work (money), relationships (love) and our sense of safety and protection. Dr. Hanson describes our three primary needs being safety, satisfaction, and connection.
We have two basic ways that our brain responds to these needs being met or not.
When we have a core experience of our needs being met, our mind is at peace (safety) we feel contentment (satisfaction) and we feel loved and loving (connection.) We are then said to be in the green zone. Our brain is in a resting state, which is sustainable over time and supports health.
When we are in the red zone our core needs of are not being met. The brain fires up into fight or flight mode or intense freeze mode. This state is not meant to be sustainable. Body systems are disturbed and burn up resources faster that we can replenish them. There is a fundamental sense of deficit and disturbance. The immune system becomes compromised and our reserves depleted.
With stress and danger our brain reacts in non-sustainable bursts of reactive energy. If this continues over a long period of time it can be harmful to our health. Our mind is coloured by a sense of fear, frustration and heartache. With repeated 'red zone' experiences we begin to feel the burden of accumulated stress and it begins to take its toll on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being.
We are resilient creatures. We can handle brief bursts of stress without big consequences. If we are mostly peaceful, contented, loved and loving with mild to moderate stress (when we are fearful, frustrated and have an ache in our heart) we are said to be in the pink zone. This is a manageable state for most people.
But all too often we find our selves with chronic, on-going, eacalating stress that may cause sleep issues, addictions, relationship problems, work problems and ultimately begin to harm our bodies. Stress needs to be addressed and managed in an effective way so that it isn't impacting our lives negatively.
A profile of one's unique stress patterns and a strategy to reduce it is very important. The long term effects of it can be managed and minimized. I help people assess their stress levels and develop a plan for stress reduction.
For further information on this topic, Dr. Rick Hanson has written a book entitled 'Buddha's Brain'.
It is an easy to read, helpful resource.