We all have stress; it’s unavoidable. Why do some people bounce back while others feel ploughed under by it? The difference is stress resilience, otherwise known as our ability to oscillate from stress to refresh, or our recovery time.
Fortunately, stress resilience is something that neurofeedback and biofeedback excel at teaching your brain and body.
How do we teach your brain and body to recover quickly from stress? By working with the core of your stress response, your brain and body learn how to shift out of stress and into a recovery state with ease and agility.
NASA at Langley Research Center measured the brainwaves of their pilot candidates. They found that all candidates shifted into beta (fast brain wave) states when they were asked to perform an aerial manoeuvre.
They observed that those pilots who stayed in the heightened beta state tended to burn-out, were unable to sustain their performance. Those who were able to down-shift into a relaxed alpha mode between manoeuvres were able to sustain mental performance and endured over the long haul.
At first, they screened the high beta pilots out of the program but then discovered that they could use neurofeedback to train otherwise promising high beta pilots to learn how to do the downshift into alpha. It’s all about brain state agility.
The body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. When you’re stressed over a busy schedule, an argument with a friend, a traffic jam, or a mountain of bills, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the easier it is to trip and the harder it is to shut off.
Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the ageing process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
The opposite of agility is stickiness. Centers for response to stress, especially in the right hemisphere of the brain can get stuck in a pattern of heightened alertness or being constantly vigilant or on-guard.
This heightened activation usually shows up as excess beta waves in the right hemisphere and is responsible for many of the stress symptoms we feel, muscle tension, tight stomach, or
tension headaches and often contributes to high blood pressure or migraines.
Difficulty falling asleep
Difficulty Waking up
Heavy use of caffeine
Loss of appetite
Increased conflict with others
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Sadness and/or crying spells
When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus – preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand.
With constant stress, your brain doesn’t have a chance to reset back to an unstressed level. It constantly stays in that “fight or flight” state which results in an over-activated brain. You know that expression “you’re on my last nerve!” That’s a highly over-activated brain that can’t take much more. By lowering your brain’s activation level, you lower your stress set-point and increase your tolerance and resilience to stress. Most people find that this feels really good!
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