Stress Self-Help



This brief introduction will explain the biological and behavioral purposes of stress and the process of replacing it with neuro-calmness when that response is preferred.

Dominant Sympathetic Mobilization

When faced with life-threatening danger, our nervous system, driven by the instinct to protect ourselves, activates powerful measures to ensure our survival. This biological response to threat, also known as the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response, is governed by our sympathetic nervous system. It’s commonly experienced as heightened levels of stress, anger, anxiety, panic, and even shock.

This heightened state mobilizes us, drives us, and equips us with the crucial tools for reaching safety or eliminating the threats we face. Stress hormones flood our bodies, our heart rate increases, breathing accelerates, and muscles tighten, all in preparation for the imminent battle for our lives. Additionally, bodily functions not immediately necessary for survival, such as digestion, metabolism, and the immune system, are suppressed. This ensures that all our physical resources are devoted to escaping potential harm and taking defensive actions. Our minds, fully engaged in the pursuit of survival, become singularly focused on the present threat and imperative of escaping potential harm. Intense strategic thinking as well as the analyzing and scanning of the environment (including the news) are common when the mind is on high alert.

While in survival mode, all matters of daily life and the sustaining of physical and mental wellbeing are temporarily put on hold until safety is re-established.

Parasympathetic Rest

However, these extreme survival measures are only essential when danger is imminent, and we need a heightened state of alertness in combination with power and speed to protect ourselves. Once the danger is no longer immediate, even if it has not disappeared, and we find ourselves in a safe environment, it becomes equally vital to calm our nervous system, restore it to balance, and return to a more restful state.

The state of stillness is governed by our parasympathetic nervous system and can be described as our biological ‘rest and guide’ response. While in a state of stillness —one that exists between sleep and movement and can only be entered while feeling safe—your body and mind are restful, calm, and achieve balance.

Fostering the state of restful and calming stillness generates the inner strengths and resilience needed to cope with the challenges and trauma we face. Stillness also enables us to think clearly, make wise decisions, and support our physical and mental wellbeing, even during times of stress and trauma.

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