Wednesday, January 23, 2008


So, the nervous system. Let's start with the "fight or flight" response. This is a response that our body has when we have a stimulus that is out of the ordinary and exhibits some sort of danger to us. You've felt it before - you are driving in a car and someone pulls out in front of you and you slam on your brakes as to not hit them. Your heart rate increases, you may sweat a little, your body tightens. You know what I mean. Unfortunately and fortunately, when a stimulus like this comes in, our body treats it as life or death. That includes any stresses that come in. Our body reacts as if "if we don't get out, we could die". Things move into overdrive - pump that adrenaline and get things going so we can do what we need to to get out of this situation. That's how frail old grandmas lift up cars that their grandchild is stuck under. When this happens, part of our nervous system tells everything to get into defensive mode.
You know your tail bone? It is called the coccyx and is at the end of the spine inside the opening of your pelvis. It is four tiny little bones that curve a little, but not too much. The outer covering of the brain and spinal cord end at the coccyx. When this life or death reaction occurs, the coccyx curls forward and tightens that outer covering of the brain and spinal cord that is connected to it. It does this so that if our body endures some type of trauma, the brain and spinal cord will be more protected from sloshing around and busting.
Our bodies were not designed to be constantly in this fight or flight mode. We cannot always have a tense body with a high heart rate and lots of adrenaline flowing. Therefore, God gave us the ability to go back to normal! Now you may ask, how does the body know to let go and turn adrenaline production and heart rate and all that back to normal? There is another section of the nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part that resets everything back to normal and tones things down. It basically comes in and says "its over, now chill out and go back to normal".
Now, as I mentioned, when any stresses from our daily life come in, we react with this life or death response. This causes our bodies to constantly be going in and out of "man I'm gonna die!" and "dude chill out!" When we keep calling on this response, the fight or flight, our body can get stuck in that mode and literally ignore or not allow the parasympathetic (chill out) to do its job. That results in people not getting over their stresses very well. They live in conditions that their body was not intended to live in as constantly as it does. That results in fried nerves. What happens when we get fried nerves? Muscle spasms, more stress, heart problems, seizures, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Dementia, slower reaction time.
So, what do we do? Good question, I'm still trying to figure it out. This is my big problem - I get stressed and stuck in this mode and get chest pains. I have found that I am deficient in a neurotransmitter that tells my body to chill out. I guess all I can offer as a suggestion is to take more time to chill out. Talk to people about your stresses. Take time to relax. One awesome way to help things along is to lay on the floor with your feet up against a wall. It gets all your blood back to your core. You can't be angry in that position either. Try me!

(If you have any questions, please ask! I try to make as much sense as possible but if I don't, I won't know unless you say! I TRIED to make it shorter!)


Chuck Persimmons said...

I like the descriptions - "I'm gonna die!" and "Dude, chill out." I wouldn't be surprised if that's actually what your body said.

What about preventative measures for stress? Gaining proper perspective about things in life can go a long way.

Julie said...

I know, I mean, that is the basic jest of what your body is trying to convey. It's weird, but true. And I totally agree, preventative is always better because you want to be prepared for things as they come your way. Some of us, like me, who are so far along and affected by the stress can't really do the preventative thing right now. Takes small steps. But if at all possible, do what you said! =]