The Stress Response Cycle is a near instantaneous hormone release in the brain that prepares the body for fight/flight/freeze in response to a perceived threat. The cycle completes when the threat is removed.
When the threat is a persistent work stress, a crappy boss, or systemic racism, removing the threat isn’t exactly practical and maybe impossible. So when you do get a break from the stressful situation you bring with you an incomplete stress cycle. Overtime repeated activation of the stress cycle takes its toll on the body in the form of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, anxiety, depression, and addiction.
Potential triggers of the stress response include:
An activated stress response feels like fight/flight- a racing heart, rapid breathing, racing thoughts, clenched muscles, upset stomach or freezing and mentally checking out (dissociating from reality).
Good news: yoga is an evidence-based treatment for stress and stress-related conditions. You can practice these techniques on your own or ideally with the mindful guidance of a teacher. You have the power to manage your stress and protect your health.
So here we go, yogic practices to complete the stress response cycle:
More good news: the stress response cycle is your body’s ingenious method of protecting itself and is absolutely essential to survival.
DISCLAIMER: perceived threats are different for different people and may not “make sense” to the thinking brain. Those stressors will still elicit a response from the nervous system even if they “don’t make sense” or you “think you know better”.