We all know that too much stress is bad for you. But is all stress created equally? And what can we do to have more of the “good stress” and less of the “bad stress”.
Dr Orlena Kerek talks to Dr Marianne Van Den Broek, psychiatrist and leadership coach to find out all about how to manage the stress in our lives.
Stress is the activation of our sympathetic nervous system when our body perceives danger. Such as being chased by a lion!
Our flight, fight or freeze reaction kicks in. Our heart starts to pound (beat faster and with more force), our blood pressure goes up and our pupils dilate.
This is a “physiological” response triggered by the hormone adrenaline. (That’s the same hormone you get injected with when you have a heart attack or an anaphylactic shock. It’s strong stuff.)
The adrenaline surges around our body helping us to run away for the lion. Or tiger. Or bear.
Our hypothalamus also triggers us to release cortisol. Another powerful hormone. (Cortisol is a steroid hormone so when we use powerful steroid drugs we creating a similar affect.)
The hypothalamus switches off our thinking brain and activates our more primitive brain.
If you know anyone who is on long term high dose steroids you’ll know that there are lots of side affects such as weight gain and being more susceptible to infection.
Your body’s entire focus is to survive and run away from the lion, tiger or toddler that is threatening your life.
It is not focused on sleeping, relaxing or even pleasure seeking activities.
Just staying alive for now!
Some stress can be good for you to keep you focused.
People who see stress as useful are less likely to die at a young age.
You need to shut down your sympathetic nervous system (the running away system) and activate your parasympathetic nervous system (“the life is back to normal and relaxing system”).
When your sympathetic “running away” system is active, the rest of your bodily “maintenance” functions are put on hold.
For example, blood is diverted from your digestive system to your muscles so you can run away. Which means digestion is put on hold.
When you stop the “running away” and return to activating your parasymathetic nervous system you body returns to normal.
We often don’t see these mechanisms going on under the surface but what we will notice is:
Marianne is a psychiatrist and leadership coach. She works with ambitious women who want to lead in their business and field, who know that what got them there won’t take them to the next level.
Find out more at: Marianne Van Den Broek