There are several types of stress. Positive stress is essential to our growth and development. The problem is most of us are conditioned to the degree we become unaware of our stress levels. This means we deal with most stress as tolerable stress, which can be more severe and elicit a biochemical response which can adversely affect brain architecture. I love that term ‘brain architecture’! (tee hee) But what about toxic stress?
Toxic stress results when the body is subjected to prolonged activation of the stress response, coupled with a failure of the body to recover fully. It differs from a normal stress response in that there is usually a lack of support, reassurance, or emotional attachment available. Examples of toxic stress include abuse, poverty, violence, accumulated burdens, environmental toxins (such as mold), constant exposure to negative people, and living with a global crisis. If exposed to long periods of stress, the brain can begin to shut down in order to protect the body. Our human systems are designed to handle stress, but only in short bursts.
Symptoms of toxic stress include reduced memory and cognitive functions, increased vulnerability to addictions, hypersensitivity, migraines, compromised immune system, and triggered responses. Researchers have also discovered changes in DNA, especially BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which is responsible for making proteins that promote growth neurons. There is evidence that this feature can be passed down to offspring. Speaking of evidence, let’s ask for a whisper that can prove there are ways to deal with toxic stress:
Biology and history are not destiny, for the effects of toxic stress can be reversed. The first step is self-awareness of the body and what is being communicated regarding the stress. Many have learned to turn off body communication, which is an essential component of spiritual growth. The body will speak loud and clear if one is willing to listen. Once the message dealing with the current stress has been delivered from the body, action is required.
Identify the source of the toxic stress. Is it an unhealthy relationship, exposure to an environmental toxin, a workplace issue, negative thoughts or beliefs, subjection to some form of negativity, or an unseen threat like an illness or the energy of lower emotions found in the collective consciousness? Once the source is recognized, it’s time to take steps toward resolution.
Seek out positive support from interaction with others. Have a goal, like receiving 6-8 positive affirmations a day. Connect with someone through touch, which is essential to feeling connected. Even with the protective barriers of today, there are ways to feel human touch safely. Be responsive to the needs of others. Giving is your contribution to the world and a beautiful way to manage the build-up of toxic stress. Send love from afar and you will feel better immediately. Receive love into your heart to lift the burdens.
Being mindful is one of the best ways to release toxic stress. Practicing mindfulness includes eating healthy, exercising, getting good rest, meditating, holding gratitude, and daydreaming. Mindfulness is self-care and self-love, which are ideal for releasing toxic stress.
Bring joy, ease suffering and create beauty, then dance like you mean it!
“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” David Mamet