If you’re hoping to take charge of anxious thoughts or episodes of recurring panic, methods employing natural anxiety relief can be quite effective. In this first of two articles I’ll begin to lay out why. I’ll also be discussing the consequences that stress can have on feelings of anxiety as well as in the development of a dreaded panic attack. After looking into stress and its effects on well-being for a good 20 years I can tell you that it plays a much larger part in things than you might be aware of.
In the second article I’ll detail a widely utilized, technique of natural anxiety relief that can be of great assistance with our usual, day to day anxiety producing events.
Alfred Cooley, a noted modern day investigator at the University of California, called stress, “The most widespread problem in America today.” He also stated, “It is a major contributing factor in 100% of diseases. No one is immune.”
How is it possible that the body’s reaction to stress, which is in effect set up for our safety, could be implicated in making us more anxious even to the point of generating a panic attack? Let’s take a quick look at some of the ways the body and more significantly the brain, responds to stress and at the ways in which the pervasive stress of modern day life can become a real cause of making us anxious, ill and preventing us from healing.
Our Body is well equipped to cope with “simple” stress. Simple stress has a very definite beginning and end point. One great example is to imagine that you’re making your way through the woods and come upon a bear. Your body activity immediately heightens to “fight or flight” mode so as to deal with the perceived threat.
You either do battle with the bear, or climb a tree, or run away. In either case, you have handled the perceived threat to your life. Now your body’s physiology can go back to its baseline normal levels once more. This happens rather easily because the physical response of eluding the threat has used up a large part of the chemical and nutritive excess present because of the stress. This is the classic stress response that the body is designed to produce and then dissipate. It’s the normal part of our physiological make up.
Modern Day “Complex” Stress
“The human body was never meant to deal with prolonged, chronic stress.” Pamela Peeke, University of Maryland.
Our current pace of life is considered to be much stressful than it was just a few decades ago. Studies show that on the job stress is higher than it has ever been and it’s worsening. Our technological innovations, thought to be labor saving, have in actuality created even more stress. For most busy people it’s as if the rat race continues 24 hours a day.
This never-ending exposure to low level stress creates the same response in the body and brain as the “bear in the woods” situation. Even though these are apparently small, low-level stressors, the same biochemical and neurological effects are triggered. Difficulties often occur when these reactions aren’t adequately discharged by fighting or fleeing before the next stressor presents itself. Give it some thought; it’s fairly difficult to “burn off” all the chemicals as you sit at your desk or in the traffic jam in your car.
Scientists like to use the term “complex stress” for this phenomenon. It’s like a chronic “fight or flight” state, with the same chemicals secreted, and specific parts of the brain alarmed, but held in place over time with very negative consequences:
The University College, London published findings in the journal Science (2007), demonstrating that when people experience daily, low-level stress, activity in the brain shifts from the frontal portion of the brain to the mid-brain. The frontal region of the brain is where decision making and rationalization takes place. The mid-brain is the spot where survival instincts such as fight or flight originate from.
What this new research is revealing to us is that our mental activity in the midst of sustained stress has moved to the mid-brain, the “survival area”, resulting in a heightened condition of fear and anxiety. In essence, you’re like a walking panic attack just waiting to be ignited. A separate, survival related, region of your brain has developed a sustained aggravated state resulting from the chronic stress and the fight or flight state which accompanies it. If a panic attack is triggered and an even more heightened state of fear comes into being, it is very difficult to calm yourself down. Deep breathing and relaxation techniques frequently don’t significantly help, because it is the brain activity that needs to be changed. It has to switch back into the more rational frontal lobe. Here is where a quality, all natural anxiety relief program, designed to ease this shift, can be extremely effective and beneficial in calming the mind and in preventing future panic attacks. In fact, my examination indicates that programs of this design are rapidly becoming recognized as the method of choice in treating generalized anxiety and panic attacks.
To sum things up: The chronic, low-level stress of modern day life can bring on a shift of brain activity into “survival mode” causing feelings of anxiety that may lead to an all-out panic attack. During the panic attack your brain has shifted into panic mode. In order to restore calm, you have to be able to switch your mental activity from the survival area of your brain back into the rational part. In Part Two of this series I’ll discuss one very simple all natural anxiety relief method that can bring you out of the “fight or flight” state and back into the rational part of your brain easing the stress or perceived fear and restoring peace of mind.