Our definition for stress is any stimulus that causes the body to change its present physiology. Physical stress received by the fives senses will likely never cause any long-term detrimental effects. The reason for this is the body will produce the appropriate chemicals necessary for survival, use them, and then stop producing them when the physical stress is over. However, this is not the case with emotional stress. Emotional stress is produced by the mind as negative thinking occurs. When this negative thinking is of high intensity, it is recorded in the part of the emotional brain called the limbic system.
The good news is that the limbic system regulates homeostasis. It works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, without fail, to keep us alive. Realizing that the body cannot function in any way it was not designed to function, it’s understandable how all physiology is normal, natural and necessary for survival.
So, what happens with high intensity negative thinking is the body gets stuck in a physiology that was necessary for survival in some past experience. This happens right in the limbic system or the emotional brain. And, with this continuing stress physiology, we will experience the exhaustion of some necessary survival system. This causes symptoms to occur, and so we seek help to alleviate these undesirable symptoms. What ends up happening is we attack the systems as though they were the cause themselves, when actually, the stress caused by emotions is the cause.
Negative emotions will activate and ultimately exhaust one, or even all-three survival systems. The first is the autonomic nervous system, which causes high blood pressure and all conditions associated with our circulatory system. The next system to be activated is the hormonal system, leading to such conditions as diabetes. The third system to become activated and then exhausted is the immune system. The ultimate exhausted immune system manifests as any number of the autoimmune deficiency diseases in which the body attacks itself.
So, how do you handle and reduce emotional stress? The simple answers are to:
- Think about what you are thinking about as you think about it, and make positive changes in that thinking.
- Don’t judge other people or experiences and, instead, make decisions about your life as you evaluate and observe others.
- Learn the lesson of the moment, remembering there are no negative lessons.
These are simple answers, but may not be the easiest to implement! However, keep working on them every day.