Did you know that if you hold on to fear too long that it will harm your immune system thus making you more susceptible to infections?

Stress is very closely bonded with fear. The reason why we have stress is because we have some sort of fear. Fear of not being competent enough, fear of losing something or someone, fear of the thought that you will never have what you are after.

When stress is triggered, the body counteracts it with a few phases. Neuroscience research has broken down this to 3 categories.

Stress arises when sensory systems in the brain have determined an external stimulus posing a threat. Outputs of the threat detection circuits trigger a general increase in brain arousal and can result in the altered threat processing mechanism: fear and anxiety disorders.

Moller first explained Hans Selye’s 3 predictable stages the body uses to respond to stressors, called the general adaptation syndrome:

  1. Alarm Stage

The first reaction to stress recognizes there’s a danger and prepares to deal with the threat.

Why ? Our stress is linked with human evolution for the last two million years. It’s no short journey hence the conditioning is so deep within us. Guest what we have been doing most of those two million years? We were running away from some danger to save our lives. Either it is from a sabre tooth tiger or some violent creature, living and hiding in caves, sleeping on top of trees or hunting.

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So when you have stress the body still behaves in such a way that if you are under a a threat.

So, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and autonomic nervous system are activated. Primary stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline are released.

2. Resistance Stage

When you hold on to stress a bit too long then the homeostasis begins restoring balance and a period of recovery for repair and renewal takes place. Stress hormones may return to normal, but there may be reduced defenses and adaptive energy left in you. You are at a danger when it comes to your immune system, however your body still fights to supply you energy.

3. Exhaustion Stage

At this phase, the stress has continued for some time. The body’s ability to resist is lost because its adaption energy supply is gone. This is often referred to as overload, in the corporate world it is normal to use this words such as a burnout and adrenal fatigue. The potential effects of chronic fear on overall health include:

  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Endocrine system dysfunction
  • Autonomic nervous system alterations
  • Sleep/wake cycle disruption
  • Eating disorders
  • Alterations in hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis
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The potential effects of chronic fear on physical health include headaches turning into migraines, muscle aches turning into fibromyalgia, body aches turning into chronic pain.

Note the first in the report it mentioned the dysfunction in the immune system. I find it rather surprising when everyone’s super focused on hygiene which is extremely good but rarely someone even thinks about keeping one’s immune system in good condition.

Burnout or adrenal fatigue does not give you the gravity of the situation. Your immune system is dysfunctional and that’s what’s happening. If you are exhausted take a couple days break immediately to avoid an imminent crash in health that you are just about to experience. After all what’s the point of losing your entire momentum when you have to take a week or two break due to your illness?

So how do we do to beat fear and what it does to us?

  1. Develop a self dialogue –

This is such a powerful step towards eliminating your stress / fear. Word was the God and God was the word that says the Bible. The Words we use have such a profound impact on how our body reacts.

Develop a dialogue where you can use it to empower yourself immediately.

My usual dialog is “ I have been through these kinds of adversities before. So many pain and suffering before with such little knowledge and insights. Now I know enough to not let this problem.” In the way I flip the power in the battle of the problem. The power is back in my court at the end of the dialogue.

2. Do a pattern break –

Look, fear is going to creep in to all of us. But you have the power to decide how long that it will accommodate you. My practise is 60 seconds! That’s all I allow it. I have been conditioning my mind over the last few years to bounce back under a minute. Within that minute let it flow and don’t resist. When you resist I have seen it manifest. Remember this isn’t something we had for 20–50 years but for millions of years. So let it in but be conscious. Then do a pattern break,

Go out for a walk, listen to a song that lightens you up ( music has such magic! ), laugh, give gratitude to something that you have in your possession.

One of the best things that works is practise ‘power pose’ or the superman or the superwoman pose as it later became known for.

Take a look at the picture below. All you have to do is, stand up, keep your hands on your hip, chin up and look straight. Stay in this pose for 2 minutes and you will notice how it impacts you immediately.

This is something the life coaches have been preaching for decades, finally the science is catching up. Harvard has discovered that if you stay in this pose for just 2 minutes, it roughly reduces cortisol by 18% and spikes your testosterone by 20%. Imagine the power our physiology. So simple yet so powerful!

3.Develop anticipation –

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I call it ‘Power of Anticipation’. If there is a project or a deadline etc that you are after, reverse engineer it. Allow enough buffer time etc and then work towards it. Lot of people have very poor time management, hence they build massive stress at the last minute.. They have plenty of such last minutes throughout a year. If you have done this task few times use your experience to anticipate and bring the tasks to bite size chunks. Then at the end of the day you’d know where you are rather than walking towards an inevitable stress spiking finale in the project’s life cycle.https://www.youtube.com/embed/wrMty647SmQ?start=53&feature=oembed

Neuroscience research Reference — https://www.ajmc.com/view/the-effects-of-chronic-fear-on-a-persons-health

Ramindu Randeni

Life coach & Corporate leadership coach

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