Why you really need to chill out: Scientist explains how stress injuries every part of your body- and some breathing exerts for a quick fix
Michael J.Porter is a lecturer in Molecular Genetics at the University of Central Lancashire
He insists that by understanding what happens inside our bodies we can learn to control stress and use it to our benefit
Here, he breaks down what stress does and how to harness it
Stress is great. It stimulates us faster, stronger, more agile and our brains have better recall and flexibility. That’s why people were ready to set themselves in stressful work circumstances and engage in extreme sports.
The problem is that uncontrolled, stress can leave us frozen to the spot and unable to think a something all too familiar for people having to speak in public or students sitting in the quiz hall.
Stress developed because it dedicates an evolutionary advantage. For early human, and with predators everywhere, food could be scarce and diseases prevalent.
By understanding what is happening inside our bodies and why, we are capable of learn to control stress and use it our advantage.
Your body, when stressed
When you’re feeling stressed, it’s a sign that your body is going into emergency mode. The turbo button is pressed, the engine of your body has roared into overdrive and you are superhuman.
This means becoming ultra vigilant, able to react quickly and increase memory remember, and to recollect every aspect of what you are seeing, hearing and feeling.
It is this increased attention to detail that gives us the feeling of time standing still, during a vehicle accident for instance.
Inside the body, a complex cascade of hormones is triggered by the release of a hormone called CRH( corticotropin releasing hormone ), by a small part of the brain known as the hypothalamus.
At the same time the liver breaks down more glycogen, a high energy storage substance similar to the starch in plants. It is constructed in the body by blending glucose( sugar) molecules a and breaking it down again creates the glucose that our bodies actually used only for energy.
Blood is moved from other areas of your body to support the muscles a which show increased strength and endurance.
Your immune system switches up a gear and your blood prepares itself to clot a in case you’re injured. Your brain also starts running much better a fed by the glucose and oxygen being pumped around your body.
What about burnout ?
Like a powerful engine, when we’re stressed we burn hot, but if we do it for too long, we burn out.
In the short term, physiological changes, including increased blood pressure, higher levels of glucose in our blood and decreased craving, are important adaptations, which normally cause little damage to the body.
But chronic stress can result in a repressed immune system, diabetes, heart attack, strokes and a range of other conditions.
Our bodies do their best to only use these stress adaptations when they are most needed a maximising the benefit and minimising possibilities for damage. But despite this, the body tends towards stress, devoted its potential advantage in our survival.
Breathing to control stress
One of the simplest things you can do to relieve stress is to breathe a something we all know how to do.
The presence of breathing techniques in both traditional meditation techniquesand modern relaxation methods reflects the importance of taking deep breaths.
The immediate impact of doing this can be seen in the reduced production of one of the stress hormones , noradrenaline.
Levels of cortisol, another stress hormone, will also start to reduce.
Research by scientists in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, at Stanford University, have now identified that these changes are linked to a group of nerves in our brains called the’ pre-BAPtzinger complex ‘, which regulates our breathing.
The scientists found that changes in the expres of certain genes in these nerves a which are physically connected to critical areas in the brain links with relaxation, attention, excitement and panic a can pacify an individual.
The clear implication being that changes in exhaling directly affect stress levels.
Modern meditation techniques are epitomised in the concept of mindfulness, which groups together these breathing techniques and the idea of’ living in the moment ‘, putting fears for the past and future into context.
Psychologically, this helps to reduce the level of anticipation associated with unnecessary forward planning and concerns, while physically reducing important stress hormones.
By learning simple coping strategies, understanding what constructs us emphasized, keeping stress at manageable levels through breathing techniques, and taking regular infringes from it, we can begin to learn to use stress to our advantage, rather than letting it control us.
Source: Daily Mail