The human body is a mind-blowing thing. In more ways than I can even comprehend its mechanisms are designed to protect, to simply keep us alive. The trouble is that we are not faced today with the same life threatening events that were present when the human body was evolving. Take for example, the killer animal attack, a fear throttling experience that sends the body into survival mode. We’re talking dilated pupils, increased heart rate, pumped adrenalin and the release of cortisol…the stress hormone. This is what we call the fight or flight response. Scared shitless and ready to run like mad or rumble, for the sake of your life.
Here’s the rub though, our body doesn’t really know whether or not the stress we face is really life threatening or not. The survival response kicks in whether or not a bear is ready to munch us, or more likely in our lives today, your train is late; you forgot to take the chicken out; money is tight, or you said the wrong thing in front of the wrong person. Consider how often these stressful yet, non life-threatening events happen in our day to day. Really often.
What happens is that the body doesn’t get to return to its normal state and settles in to a chronic state of stress. Not good. This means that cortisol (the stress hormone) is running through the body much more than it should and your body is constantly preparing for the worst instead of working to keep itself in a peaceful balanced state. All this supposed survival effort takes away from the normal functioning of a healthy body and the result is chronically tensed muscles (check into your psoas…more on that later) lowered immunity, higher blood pressure, adrenal fatigue, poor digestion, all of which can obviously lead to many other things.
Luckily though we do have a built in reset button when we reach this fake state of imminent danger and fear called the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve is a huge nerve runs from the brain all the way down to the belly that sends signals to the brain and body that it’s safe now, the threat is gone. Its activation has also been called the “relaxation response.” How do we activate it? It’s been said by doing some deep belly breathing.
So the message here is this: get a handle on your stress and let go of your fear—at least the stuff you can’t control. Don’t sweat the small stuff, your body is really not designed for it. And just breathe.