How the release of stress hormones leads to anxiety and negative thoughts

Even when it looks like you've got it all together.

Do you have a negative, critical voice in your head? Does it suddenly start telling you things like, “You’re just not good enough?” “You’ll never finish this.” “You’re totally worthless.” “What makes you think you can do this?”

Everyone I know has these thoughts from time to time. Where does the voice come from? Why do we use the pronoun “you” instead of “I?” Who is really talking to us? Maybe these thoughts are circulating, but on the outside, you’ve got your game face on. Everything looks fine. My video with this post honors Madison Halloran, a Penn D-1 athlete featured in Kate Fagan’s book What Made Maddy Run.

Several years ago, I took a three-week period to analyze the voices in my head, and what I learned was profound. My negative, critical voice usually only starts chattering when I have triggered the fight-or-flight stress response. If I can refrain from releasing stress hormones, my mind feels much more free to think and talk positively. I’m firing on all cylinders! I’m creative, innovative, effective, happy, and radiant.

But the moment stress hormones start coursing through my veins, shutting off dopamine in my cortex, there is a drastic change. When dopamine stops flowing, we don’t feel good. We get bitchy, bossy. We bully, get over busy. Or we feel broken down. We are in survival mode, using our “reptile” or “croc” brain. All we care about is self-survival. The smallest situation can feel like a threat. Depending on your personality, you’ll get aggressive and lash out, or you’ll want to run and hide, or you’ll freeze and feel stuck, paralyzed to do anything about your situation.

Then the second flood of hormones, gluco-corticoids, causes you to feel anxious, which can cause you to trigger the whole process again. Pretty much everyone you know is in some stage of the stress response all day and all night. Which is why we have so much chronic disease, physical illness and mental illness. If our brains never get a break from these hormones, we have a hard time experiencing true peace and happiness.

Chronic anxiety leads to depression and negative thought patterns that can lead to suicidal thought patterns. By learning how to stop the floods of stress hormones, we can begin to free ourselves from the negative mental patterns that keep us unwell. It’s a discipline so worth exploring.

When I created the Pressure-Free Method in 2010, I started using it, and I was astonished at how much I doubted it would work. My critical voice was in overdrive. I was vulnerable to others’ opinions. But after just a few weeks, my mind and body changed definitively. Then my clients starting experiencing breakthroughs. Life-changing breakthroughs. By stopping stress at the adrenal glands, we stop stress at its source. When a glimmer of hope and happiness can start to be achieved in our thoughts, it can be life-transforming. True happiness is possible.



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