You trigger your SRS through your body (inflammation, pain, excessive exercise, etc.) or through your mind (unpredictability, trauma, perceptions, etc.). Once triggered, you experience stress and the stress response.
Your SRS affects:
• Body Temperature
What happens when your SRS is triggered?
When alerted there is increased blood flow to the muscles, heart, and lungs and there is decreased blood flow to the brain digestion, and liver.
An example of Normal Stress Response:
An Elderly Man
You decide to take a jog in the park when you see an older man on your path with his dog. You keep jogging with no worries.
An Armed Man
You are jogging in the park and a man with a knife steps out of the bushes in front of you. At this point you either try to fight him off (fight), turn and run away (flight), or comply with his demands (freeze).
Here’s what is really going on in the above situations:
Everything you sense goes through a specialized part of your brain called Amygdala. The Amygdala plays a big role in processing memories and emotions. It uses your past experiences to make snap decisions about situations. The situation is processed by:
• Labeling – If the situation is ‘safe,’ then you don’t experience stress and you go on without being effected. If the situation is either ‘provoking’ or ‘dangerous’ then the rest of your SRS is triggered. This results in the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response that focuses on surviving rather than thriving.
• Changes – If the situation is provoking or dangerous, then your SRS is activated. It creates change in your mind and body in order to deal with the threat and you don’t think as clearly or see the world the same.
• Learning– When the stress is over and the situation has subsided, your mind and body return to a normal healthy state (if your SRS is healthy), but stores the information for future reference. This helps you to be able to react quicker next time and be more prepared but now you SRS is more likely to see more situations as stressful and be on high alert.
While this process protects you, the more stressful situations you have the more your SRS works and subtly changes the mind-body connection.