You are currently viewing Modern-day stress response is a habit!

Modern-day stress response is a habit!

If so, then it can be changed!

My hypothesis is: There are 2 Secrets to gaining Success over Stress and 1 Key to unlocking those 2 secrets, and these are:

a.    When you repair your physiology first and

b.    Increase your energy (which is a vibration – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually)

–        And the KEY to unlocking those 2 things is: to do just one thing to change some small aspect of your stress response behaviour habit.

Stress is about survival.

*     It’s about unexpressed negative emotions

*     It’s about suppression of emotions,

*     and it is about unhealthy beliefs…and

* how you respond to stress has become a habit.

When we are born we are trying to learn how to survive our home environment. As we grow older we are also trying to cope within certain environments and we adopt certain strategies and behaviours to do that.

Lets’ look at STRESS from a primitive survival point of view:

  • The Stress Response Mechanismwhich is inbuilt into the autonomic nervous system and is an automatic function was originally designed to warn us of pending danger when a dangerous animal was nearby and was threatening to kill us. We would: sense the danger and then make a very quick decision: would we stay and fight, or would we run and flee or would be so overcome with fear that we froze and did nothing.

What happens physiologically is that via the senses we have a thought. The thought then goes to the heart and the heart attaches an emotion to that thought – e.g. fear. The thought and emotion then goes down to the gut area and adds more information e.g. I am not very strong and so I feel we should get out of here immediately.

This information then goes back up through the heart and back to the brain and the brain mobilises water and blood and fluids, in order to make those muscles, tissues and organs work more effectively in this stressed state, and then sends electrical messages throughout the body/mind to activate ready for whatever decision was made e.g. let’s flee. Molecules are emitted and you will feel the fear or the anger or whatever emotion you first identified.

When the danger has passed or the event that triggered the stress response mechanism eventually subsides, our bodies then get back into balance and can function normally.

Because we do not have many “real” threats impinging on our lives nowadays, generally the threats or stresses we have are “perceived”.

They are not real. They are imagined. The problem is that your body/mind, your subconscious, cannot tell the difference between an event which is “real” and an event which is “perceived”. So, what this means today is that most of our stress triggers are imagined or not real.

This means that we have been training ourselves how to respond to those “perceived” threats and have developed an habitual response to those “perceived” stress triggers.

I believe that how you respond to stress is a habit. And, if it is a habit that has been learned over time it can be unlearned.

What is a habit and how does it arise?

A habit is a sequence of elements strung together which, if repeated over time becomes embedded within our psyche and which you do not have to think about at all. The sequence and response and behaviour are all triggered by something and you go into automatic response.

Charles Duhigg in his book titled: The Power of Habittalked about habit being comprised of 3 elements.

A habit is comprised of three elements:

–         A cue – trigger – which could be a thought, a feeling, a belief an attitude.

–        A routine – a general way of responding to the cue – which could be described as a behaviour, and

–        A reward– such as a feeling of relief or satisfaction that having performed the behaviour, this then satisfies the critical urge. It could be food or alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.

So, we have some trigger setting us off, we then go through a routine or go into a specific behaviour and after the behaviour has been completed for a satisfactory amount of time we then reap the reward. Now the reward could be tied to the event, e.g. when the stress event is over the reward could be the relief that comes when the event is over. The reward could be a thing such as chocolate, alcohol or cigarettes, or some feeling.

So, if these triggers happen often enough then the chances of that trigger developing into a habit sequence is high. Let’s look at an example. Say, someone chews their finger nails. They might be sitting watching TV and suddenly they start the routine/the behaviour of chewing the nails. They do this until the quicks do not have any hard pieces sticking out. So, what would be the reward? Simply put, it could be a feeling of satisfaction that there are no quicks left. Or it could be a sense of relaxation. Who know. Rewards can be hard to identify and distinguish.

So, the habit might be:

a.    I am bored – watching TV – the cue

b.    The routine – chewing the nails – the behaviour

c.     The reward – a sense of satisfaction that there are no hard pieces still sticking out.

So, over time if this sequence is practised sufficiently often, the brain begins to anticipate the reward, so eventually the reward + the cue becomes the trigger.

Now. In our stress response situation, whereby the cue could be a thought/feeling of being threatened in some way, our routine/behaviour is: we gasp for air, bend back and forward, and the reward could be relief that the event is over.

When we want to change a habit, there are many ways to do this.

You can:

·       try to change the cue,

·       change the routine or the behaviour or

·       change the reward.

Habits are built via a collection of neural pathways over time. It has been verified that a habit takes approx. 30 days for those neural pathways to be built. It has also been found that you cannot get rid of old habits. You have to install new ones because you have to build the necessary synapses, the pathways to the brain that will install the new habit.

How you respond to stress, the routine/the behaviour, is part of a habit which has been learned. If it has been learned you can unlearn it.

Celine Healy Stress Resolution Specialist

I help professional career women and organisations resolve stress permanently so you can function better, be more productive and increase your overall mental health and well-being, without changing your lifestyle, and all within 37 Days.