Your boss reams you out for a bad presentation -- you break into a sweat. Your demanding mother-in-law comes for a visit -- your head pounds. Rumors swirl about possible layoffs at work -- you can't sleep. An unexpected expense takes a hit on your bank account -- your stomach aches.
This is why: Your Nervous System!
Historically speaking, the majority of stressors facing humans were physical (lions, tigers, and bears or running away from people with swords), requiring, in turn, a physical response. Because of these physical stresses, we have been equipt with a sophisticated "flight or fight" response that allows us to out run lions, tigers, and bears or those people chasing us with swords. When stressed, the sympathetic nervous system takes control of the body, which then triggers a "flight or fight" response. (The counterpart of the sympathetic nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the "rest and digest" system. The parasympathetic nervous system is in control during our more relaxing times. Both are part of the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary actions - heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, immune system function, hormone balance, body temperature, etc.) Once our body identifies a threat, we prepare for war or get out of there - "fight or flight": muscles tense up, the heart starts to beat faster and blood flows away from any system that is not being utilized during this "flight or fight" response.
The problem is that while just a few hundred years ago our stressors were primarily physical, now the vast majority are emotional stress (work, finances, families, divorce, relationships, death in family, etc.) or chemical stress (poor diet, lack of nutrition, sugar, artificial sweetener, toxic cleaning products, vaccines, drugs, medicines, etc.). And our bodies have not been able to keep up with the advancements in technology. Which means the stress response that we get from a poor diet or a divorce is the same as a physical stress response. So when your boss reams you for a bad presentation your body thinks "I'm being chased by a grizzly bear!"
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