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Natural Ways To Relieve Stress Part 1/5

ABOUT STRESS

Many people believe stress is an entirely psychological phenomenon, and are surprised to learn that it also has to do with body chemistry. The physiological side of stress is governed by the autonomic nervous system and the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

The autonomic nervous system is the unconscious part of our nervous system and consists of two parts, the sympathetic and parasympathetic. We are familiar with the sympathetic nervous system as the source of the “fight or flight” response. On the other hand, the parasympathetic system is responsible for restoring our energy reserves, for our digestion, the repair processes of our body, and reproduction. These two systems need to work in balance, and without that balance we have the physiological results of stress. Our modern Western society as you might expect, is tilted heavily in favor of the sympathetic nervous system. Without sufficient time to recover, the components of the sympathetic nervous system are subject to exhaustion and ultimately physical collapse.

Types of Stress
There are two types of stress: acute stress and chronic stress. Acute stress is what we experience when we are temporarily under pressure or challenged. This is the stress that increases our energy level and enables us to change the stressing situation or move away from it. It helps us manage in a world of ever changing conditions and demands. Chronic stress happens when we are unable to change the situation and our adaptive processes are stretched to and beyond their limits. Chronic stress keeps the body in a constant state of alarm and will eventually deplete our resources and break down both body and mind.

The brain constantly monitors and interprets everything happening in and around the body, and based on this assessment, decides if it is time to evoke the stress response. This process may be conscious or, as it is usually, unconscious. The outcome of this evaluation is highly individual and depends on a multitude of factors including personality, experience, biological predisposition (e.g. diabetic), emotional state of mind at that time, and many others.