Stress & Anxiety, Part 1: How it affects us.

Updated: Apr 21, 2019

When we are anxious, in chronic stress or experience any level of fear, our physiology does a number of things in response to a perceived threat to our survival.  You have probably heard of these:

Our immune system and internal repair mechanisms down-regulate and we are more prone to illnesses as a result.

High levels of stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine) circulate in our blood and, among many other things, they can lead to adrenal exhaustion and burn-out.

Our digestion is impaired and over time this can lead to ulcers and other GI malfunctions.

One of the most interesting things I learned and find very much worth sharing is that, in order to secure our very survival, our blood supply is almost exclusively shunted to our brain stem — also called the reptilian brain.  This happens at the cost of our frontal brain which is thereby almost entirely shut off. 

Regardless of this, we want to be able to use our frontal lobe!  Our frontal brain is where our higher cognitive functions are located:  social behavior, judgment, problem solving, impulse control and more. Our frontal brain is what distinguishes us human beings most from a sheep or an alligator.  I find it so important and motivating to know that by living in a constant state of stress and anxiety we are actually A LOT less intelligent and creative!  Apart from a host of physical and emotional problems, we become more gullible, dull and controllable.