Reversing stress (Pt1) …the role of Emotional Surgery

Stress is a natural com­ponent of everyday living and as is said the body re­quires a bit of it to keep it in shape and focus. It is a bit like an organisation undergoing fire drills to keep the system in good nick.

The body practises pre­paring itself for fight, flight and freeze as the acceptable reactions in times of stress, the first two being the most common in times of danger.

The body’s biochemical systems control the reactions. Two hormones produced by the adrenal medulla (the inner part of an adrenal gland, con­trols hormones that initiate the flight or fight response) and cortex are paramount in the preparations.

Adrenaline is secreted by the adrenal medulla and it causes the ‘get go’ sympathet­ic nervous system to respond by increasing pulse rate and blood pressure, decrease blood sugar level by pushing the sugar into the tissues and shunting of blood from the digestive tract to the muscles, all in preparation for height­ened body activity.

The effects of the adrena­line increases metabolism and generates increased energy, for effective action.

These actions are all quick and purposeful. Once the threat is dealt with the body reorganises itself through the secretion of cortisol from the adrenal cortex which brings the body to normal.

It sets another chain reac­tion to pulse rate and blood pressure and increases blood sugar level, the opposite of what prepares the body for action. The time it takes to return the body to normal varies from person to person. People with a greater ability to control their emotions do a better job.

The stew of stress hor­mones secreted when a person is upset, takes hours to be­come reabsorbed in the body and fade away. Within the time to full withdrawal of the hormones the slightest upset mounts an even exaggerated response.

It is the reason why in a fight or quarrel anything said however innocuous creates its own chain reaction. It is the touching of a raw nerve.

In the scenarios where there is no need to fight or flight, the absence of physical danger, the energy generated must find expression. Most of the stress of today’s existence fall into this category.

It is in our everyday life, work related, relationships, sibling rivalry or quarrels, examinations or interviews and on the roads, pervasive in character.

These are described as environmental stress. The other is internal stress. People usually bring it on themselves, worrying about things we know we have no control over.

Others invariably and knowingly put themselves in stressful situations. The short term stress leads to a faster pulse or heartbeat and rapid breathing, increased sweating and creating a sick feeling in the stomach described as ‘butterflies’.

It also leads to headaches, tense feeling, difficulty in concentration and a sense of frustration.

It is however, the slow decline in hormones and the regularity of arousals that appear to constantly mount a heightened agitation that leads to long-term symptoms of headaches, poor sleep, poor appetite, nervous dispo­sition, fatigue, confused and unable to take decisions. It may affect personal appear­ance, mood swings and lead to dependence on food, alcohol, tobacco and drugs and also affect sex life.

By Robert Ekow Grimmond-Thompson

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