If you’re prone to feeling many of the negative emotions such as fear and stress, even when there is little to no need for your brain to respond in these ways, try diaphragmatic breathing exercises.
Many people walk around constantly in a state of stress and fear. As for myself, ever since I can remember as a child I have always been prone to feeling high levels of stress and fear almost always.
This is less of a character flaw and more of a character trait and depending on what end of the spectrum you are in terms of neurosis, this will determine the level of fear you will experience in your everyday life.
To put it simply, everyone has the capacity to fear, but when that response gets triggered depends on the person. Some people walk around with fear and negative emotion when there is nothing to fear or feel negative about. This all comes down to personality type and past experience.
If you find that you are in a constant state of fear or stress, it means your amygdala, the part of the brain that is like the alarm bell that rings during situation where the fight or flight response is required is over active, sometimes even hyperactive like in my case.
Activity in the amygdala eventually becomes feeling in the body. Once signals from the amygdala reach the hypothalamus in the brain, peptides are released into the body relating to feelings of stress, anxiety and fear.
What started as signal of fight or flight in the amygdala is now a feeling you experience throughout your body.
When your body receives the signals for fight or flight, a lot of your blood travels away from your digestive system and other organs and into the limbs. With so much blood and energy in your limbs, this enables you to either escape for safety, or fight the threat.
If you are prone to stress and anxiety though, the issue is that your brain and body are going into fight or flight mode when it isn’t necessary. Even when there are no threats, the brain can imagine one and then put the body in a state of fight or flight intensity.
Eventually, this leads to more stress and fear. When your muscles are constantly tensed up because of the body’s response to the peptides released by the brain, this causes one to overextend on this natural instinct, unnecessarily.
With diaphragmatic breathing, you are bringing oxygen back into the stomach and the organs, and this calms the nerves and switches off the fear response, as all the blood rushes back from your limbs into your main organs.
After you have applied some breathing, consciously scan your environment so your brain can process that there is no danger in the present.
Working with these ancient instincts of body and mind and applying them to modern day living is the challenge, but it’s also the trick.
Image – pituitary gland attached to hypothalamus in the brain. Where neurotransmitters from the brain get turned into peptides that travel throughout the bloodstream of the body.