Written By: Evan Vukets, Registered Clinical Counsellor
A challenging day at work, a late bus, another spam e-mail, driving after a car accident, or a stressful news headline. These are all events that happen during the day that we simply sweep under the rug as we continue on with our busy daily routines. Before we know it, these stressful encounters build to a point where we cannot ignore them and we find ourselves on the top of a mountain of stress. When we are at the summit of this mountain, we are not able to think clearly – which makes us do things we would not normally do. For some this is being unable to communicate effectively and shutting down, while for others this can lead to excessive anger and yelling. Whatever the response is, it generally leads to feelings of guilt, frustration, confusion, and/or hopelessness that it will not change.
Every day we find ourselves unknowingly climbing trigger mountain, and as we do our body prepares us for danger. While the stress we encounter is not a threat that we have to fight or flee from, our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) responds as if it is. During this stress response:
Heart rate increases - You breathe more quickly and heavily, with the aim of moving nutrients and oxygen out to your major muscle groups.
Your blood Flow Changes - Blood flow is redirected so you feel cold, your hands and feet are clammy, and face may appear flushed.
Memory Challenges – Your memories can be as vivid as a movie, or blanked out entirely.
Pain Response is dulled– Often in an accident or combat scenario, you only feel your injuries once you’ve returned to safety and have had time to calm down.
You’re on edge – You find yourself constantly looking out and listening for what might be a threat.
During this response, all bodily systems are working to keep us alive in what we have perceived to be a dangerous situation. Anything not needed for survival no longer functions well, this includes but is not limited to: digestion, reproductive and growth hormone production, and tissue repair. When life stress has you chronically engaging the SNS, it can lead to: weight gain, fertility problems, lowered immune functioning, and a greater chance of injuring yourself.
The good news is that your body also has a way to climb down the mountain. The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) works to relax you and helps to conserve and restore energy. This can be engaged through specific breathing, mindfulness, and imagery techniques.
Our counsellors can help you to understand and reinterpret the stress that causes you to climb trigger mountain. Through that insight, we can tailor techniques to your individual challenges which will help you to climb down the mountain. We work through stress, relationship conflicts, depression, anxiety, trauma, and many other mental health concerns. If you would like to book an appointment with Evan give Cheam Wellness Group a call at 604-776-2432 or check out our online booking page www.cheamwellnessgroup.janeapp.com