Stress: Perceived or Real?

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Business-Stress-Man-With-Text-AnxietyWe all experience stress everyday. But what exactly is stress? We experience a situation as stressful because it is a perceived threat. Our amygdala (the primitive area of our brain) sends out hormones such as epinephrine to increase blood pressure and heart rate to prepare us to face and overcome it.

I see many stressed out people in my practice. When patients come into my office they often have elevated blood pressure readings just from trying to make their appointment on time. Epinephrine is involved in this reaction and is why you feel sweaty and your heart pounds. But the doctor’s office shouldn’t be perceived as a threat, shouldn’t it?

Given the realities of our stressful lives, how can we learn how to lessen stress in order to bring more peace and calm in our lives? Here’s some things I’ve learned:

  • Breathe in deeply 2-3 times. Often oxygen is lacking in the stress response and the brain needs oxygen to function properly. This is how it makes neurotransmitters.
  • Make sure you’re taking the proper supplements. Vitamin B6 an important cofactor in the production of dopamine, which makes us feel good and lessens stress.
  • Use techniques that train your subconscious awareness that all situations aren’t actual threats. A good one that I have used is “be set free fast.” Another one is the Emotional Freedom Technique that I wrote about in another blog.
  • Picture your physician’s office as a place of refuge, not a place of added stress. You should always feel welcomed and valued. If you don’t, find another physician.

Young girl listening to music at home

Ultimately, the stress response is biochemical and not “in our heads.” The perception of a threat takes an awareness on one’s part to tell ourselves that certain threats are important and some are not. Being aware of this and optimizing your biochemistry will improve your responses to what life throws at you.

Are you using any of these techniques to lower your stress response? If so, let me know in the comments how they’ve worked for you.

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