Stress Feedback Loops

As I’m sure you all know, feedback is what happens when an output returns back on top of the original input. If this is allowed to repeat without interruption the output amplifies, and amplifies, and amplifies… and so on. This can happen with the body and stress.

As discussed in my previous post the body and mind are connected on an emotional level. Using the same stress response as before, the raising of shoulders to protect the vulnerable blood-vessels of the neck, I’ll be talking about how stress can lead to more stress in a feedback loop.

So your boss is breathing down your neck for the thing that’s due yesterday, your kid’s crying, and the ass-hole behind you just honked their horn for the fifth time because the traffic has stopped moving (no fault of yours mind). You, are stressed. Your heart rate is elevated, pressure has spiked, pupils dilated, and every muscle is tense and tight. And it’s been this way for a week.

But now you’ve got some times to yourself. You have a hot bath and sit down in-front of the T.V. You should be relaxed. But you’re not. Your shoulders are still up by your ears and you’re feeling uneasy in what you perceive to be a safe space. Why? You’re stuck in a stress feedback loop and heading towards chronic stress.

While you’re external senses are clearly showing that everything is safe, your internal senses are picking up that you are stressed. And your unconscious mind reads this as a good reason to be stressed. You can quickly see how this can spiral out of control which can lead to chronic stress, which is never a good thing.

The easiest way to break the cycle is to not start it. But in reality it’s not often easy and it is often only after the fact that many realise they’ve even started the spiral. Staying active is an excellent way to reduce stress and minimise tension patterns that can lead to a stress feedback loop. I’ll always recommend a massage to reduce stress, but that’s both bias and for some people not productive. Cutting coffee and tea from your diet is a good way to reduce your caffeine intake, a stimulant that has your body mimic a lot of the stress response effects. Most of all just taking some time for yourself, on a regular basis, can greatly reduce stress.

One thing I don’t want people to take away from this article is that stress is “bad”. It is a natural response. It is your body trying to protect you.

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