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How Unaddressed Stress Affects the Brain and Body

Posted on
February 15, 2023

Just recently we focused on the three primary types of stress, and ways to increase our awareness of our own stress responses so that we know when we are being impacted. I want to expand on this topic because stress is pervasive in every facet of life, and our society’s toxicity is at an all time high. We are consuming copious amounts of negative stimuli on a daily basis, overloading our brain and body in the process. The detrimental impact that unaddressed stress has on our body requires us to deepen our understanding of the health implications. So, the goal here is not to instill fear, but to educate, empower, and explore the beauty of being able to heal and keep your brain and body in sync.

The Brain

The brain’s capacity to promote thought, creativity, and problem solving is remarkable. Our brain is also designed to keep us safe and in survival mode when our flight, fight, or freeze responses are activated. However; chronic exposure to stress can wreak havoc on our memory, capacity to learn, and impair our ability to make sound decisions. Studies have shown that stress can literally alter the structure of the brain, resulting in severe mood and behavioral disorders.1

"The body has proven its capacity to push beyond limits to what most people would define as phenomenal."

-Krystle Herbert, LMFT, PsyD

The Body

The body follows the brain and has accomplished incredible feats in the area of sports, gymnastics, dance, and free ocean diving to name a few. The body has proven its capacity to push beyond limits to what most people would define as phenomenal. Yet, the body is also incredibly vulnerable to heart disease, blood pressure, digestive, and appetite issues when our stress goes unchecked. Since the early 1920’s researchers have linked stress with illness, and there is now evidence that widely correlates folks with having higher levels of stress suffer from more frequent and severe illnesses.

The Beauty

What is equally, if not more fascinating about the early studies of stress are the anecdotes of using the power of the mind to heal the body. While many of these individuals promoting these natural practices were often casted out as “crazy” or executed under the guise of “practicing witchcraft”, we now know that lives have been transformed from the use of meditation, mindfulness, and strategies that ground us in the present moment.

The ability to manage our moods with our minds is a gift. No longer are these practices looked upon as superstitious, but are backed by research in aiding the healing of conditions such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and chronic pain.2 This is promising for those who want to be proactive and/or responsive to their wellness needs. Information about these practices are widely available to the public, are routinely used in therapeutic and medical settings, and can be revolutionary in effectively addressing our stress.

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