Why do I get worked up when I am stressed?
Have you ever been in a situation that makes you react without even thinking? This is your fight or flight response kicking in. Deep inside your limbic system, your amygdala receives stress hormone signals from your adrenal glands. These glands release two hormones known as cortisol and adrenaline.
When these hormone signals are picked up by your amygdala you may begin to feel a difference in your body caused by changes happening inside. Your airways begin to relax to allow for more oxygen intake, you will get an increased blood flow to your muscles as well as increased blood sugar to give you more energy and dilated pupils for better vision - all of this gets you ready to respond to the threat. Although you may not realise any of this is happening inside you, the physical symptoms of this include:
- Increased alertness
- Higher sensitivity to sound
- Rapid heartbeat
These symptoms, however great they are for emergency situations, don’t always apply to everyday situations, and unfortunately with a chemical imbalance or increased stress our body releases these hormones unneededly.
How to calm your limbic system
The best way to deal with unwanted reactions like this is to become more mindful of your surroundings and be ‘in the moment’. For example if you feel yourself getting worked up and stressed, pause for a moment to identify where this ‘threat’ is coming from. The fear of the unknown is one of the most common stressors, so by consciously identifying why you are feeling stressed, your emotional response tends to naturally subside. Coaching yourself to adapt to a mindfulness mindset is not a quick fix, this does take time - but is totally worth it for the freedom you will gain.
Take 15 minutes out of your day, every day to meditate and use this time to practise mindfulness. Before long it will become second nature and you will have mastered the tools to overriding your subconscious automatic responses.