What does not kill us and makes us stronger? Coping with stress
5 September 2017
When describing piled stress, we often say, “I have a stressful job.” Or, when faced with problems, we complain: “I am under such stress. I just don’t understand anything ”. Some of us, constantly under stress, even begin to gain weight and get sick. Can we control depressive moods and help our body deal with stress? In the book “Ignite Yourself”, this state is analyzed down to the smallest cells of the body.
What is stress?
Almost everyone thinks they know the essence of stress. But is it? Stress comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be acute and chronic. It can be social, physical, metabolic, etc. Most people use this word without distinguishing between cause and effect. Even scientists do not always draw a clear line between stress as a condition and the psychological response to it. The feeling of stress is primarily an emotional echo of the stress experienced by brain cells. Most likely, it will never occur to you that getting out of the chair is stressful. The fact is that usually you do not experience stress. But in a biological sense, this action is unconditional stress. Of course, it is not comparable to, say, losing a job. But it is important to remember that both of these events activate the same circuits in our body and brain.
Today it’s all about how correctly you react to a situation. It affects not only how you feel, but how stress affects your brain. If you react passively and find no way out, he can have a devastating effect on you. Like most mental disorders, chronic stress occurs when the brain is fixated on some kind of experience – primarily on pessimistic thoughts, fears, and the desire to avoid trouble. Actively resisting stress relieves these conditions. We must resist our innate instincts and remember that we can control the effect of stress on us. And that control is a key factor.
It is not time that heals, but sport
Exercise can help combat the emotional and bodily manifestations of this problem. They also work at the cellular level. But how can this be if body load is itself a form of stress? Exercise-induced brain activity generates byproducts at the molecular level that can damage cells. However, under normal conditions, repair mechanisms over time make brain cells even more adapted for future tasks. Neurons are weakened and strengthened, just like the muscles in our body – the more they tense, the more flexible and resilient they become. This is how physical activity forces the body and brain to adapt to new conditions. Stress and recovery. This basic paradigm of biology produces powerful and sometimes unexpected results.
The necessary shake-up
Amid the flow of advice and recommendations on how to reduce stress in modern life, we somehow forget that problems and challenges allow us to grow above ourselves, learn and develop. The parallel at the cellular level is this: stress triggers the brain’s growth mechanism. Provided that the stress load is not excessive and the neurons are given time to regenerate, the neural network of the brain only becomes stronger, and our thinking apparatus works better. Stress is not about good or bad; it is a matter of necessity.
Running from hysteria
Human beings are unique in nature in that they do not have to clearly see or otherwise sense a threat in order to respond to it. We can expect a threat, we can remember it, we can imagine it. And this ability significantly complicates life. Our brains are so powerful that we can trigger a stress response simply by imagining ourselves in a dangerous situation. In other words, with our thoughts we can drive ourselves into hysterics. There is also a downside: we can literally run away from this hysteria. Muscle activity can be considered a natural remedy for countering the negative effects of overexertion. When we move actively in response to stress, we are just doing what evolution has taught humanity over the past few million years.
Stress affects your figure
Human genes are by nature greedy, so for us it ends up accumulating excess calories. The paradox of our time is that in everyday life we are faced not so much with more difficulties as with an increased amount of information. With a hypertrophied volume of information. The almost round-the-clock stream of tragedies and demands that befalls us from all kinds of screens and displays drives the amygdala crazy. All kinds of negativity, pessimism and hopelessness add up to severe stress, and we believe that we can cope with them, as we have always done before. But this is only real to a point. And then suddenly you want to give up everything, take a break and relax. Unsurprisingly, over the past 20 years, the percentage of obese people has doubled – our lives are becoming both more stress-prone and more sedentary.
What does not kill
Regular aerobic exercise soothes the body. As a result, it is ready to accept stressful situations even before the “stress hormones” are released into the body, and the heart begins to beat faster. Exercise raises the body’s response threshold. In the brain, moderate motor stress strengthens the neural network infrastructure, forcing genes to produce specific proteins that protect nerve cells from disease and destruction. Thus, this also raises the threshold of neurons’ resistance to various stresses. The dynamic processes of overcoming stress by cells and recovery after that follow three main directions: oxidation, metabolism and excitement.