What Acute Stress Does to Us

The Skeletal System:
Decreased bone density through increased osteoclast activity
Osteoporosis
Osteopenia
Decreased alignment from weakened bone health
Higher Risk of Fractures

Muscles and Joints:
Muscle stress/spasms
Migraines/ tension headaches
Chronic joint pain
Low back pain

The Respiratory System:
Constricts bronchi making breathing difficult
Triggers Asthma
Shallow breathing patterns
Rapid breathing/hyperventilation
Panic attacks (characterized by not being able to “catch your breath”)
Insufficient tidal (full) breathing and decreased use of respiratory muscles

The Cardiovascular system:
Increased heart rate
Blood vessels to large muscles and the heart dilate and can elevate blood pressure.
Chronic increase of heart rate and hypertension increase risk of heart attack & stroke.
Inflammation in the circulatory system and coronary arteries increase risk of heart attack
Increased cholesterol

The Endocrine System:
Glands of the endocrine system release hormones effecting health of the entire body.
Endocrine glands include: hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, pancreas,
adrenals and the reproductive organs (ovaries and testes)
The main stress hormones are cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine.
Adrenalin: released by the adrenal glands and increases heart rate, energy & attention.
Norepinephrine: released by the adrenal glands & brain and primary function is arousal.
Considered kind of a back up to adrenalin.
Cortisol: a steroid hormone released by the adrenal glands helps to maintain fluid
balance and blood pressure (Too much cortisol can suppress the immune
system, increase blood pressure and sugar, decrease libido, produce acne
and contribute to obesity etc)

The Nervous System:
Comprised by the Central Nervous System & Peripheral Nervous System
Peripheral Nervous System is comprised of Autonomic and Somatic branches
Autonomic branch is comprised of Sympathetic (SNS) and Parasympathetic (PNS)
branches.
Stress hormones are released by the SNS through the flight or flight response and the
subsequent cascade of hormones ensue increasing heart rate,
respiration, vasodilation, glucose and decrease digestion.
The parasympathetic is a the “rest and digest” branch of the nervous system and is
complimentary to the SNS. It remediate stress hormones and increase homeostasis.

The Immune System
Chronic Inflammatory response through the over load of Cortisol
Autoimmune Disorders such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and thyroid
conditions.
PTSD
Deceased Immunity

The Digestive/Eliminatory system
Controlled by the Enteric Nervous System
Increases stomach acid
Inflammation of the intestines
Constipation
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Stomach Ulcers
Celiac Disease

Pranamaya kosha is the energy breath body and stress immediately impacts this kosha as it changes with stress. We use breath to manage stress and we lose our breath when we under stress or in fear. With conscious work in yoga or meditation, we learn tools to identify our breath patterns, what they are telling us, and how to become more conscious of our selves and managing the energy body. The parapsympatheic nervous system is also effected though breath so it is an effective way to calm down the SNS when in a state of fight or flight. Separation in this kosha begins with a lack of awareness of the breath and how it affects the pranavayu of the energy body.
Manomayakosha is profoundly effected by stress. Hyper-vigilance, hyper-arousal, PTSD, depression, isolation, numbing behaviors (cutting, substance abuse. etc) are just a few of the psycho-emotional responses to stress. Stress interrupts our ability to connect with who we are and interrupts healthy adaptive emotional responses to events in out life. Our behaviors have an immediate impact on our relationships with others so separation within this kosha is vital for the individual to understand or patterns will just repeat unconsciously throughout or lives.
Vijnanamayakosha, or the witness mind, is difficult to discern when under stress, because our stress keeps us from being able to have healthy perspective. The klesha, Avidya, is pronounced because stress keeps us from seeing what is going on around us and from our truer nature.
Anandamayakosha is murdered by profound stress. Individuals are often not able to connect with joy, good feelings or a sense or purpose outside themselves. The separation of this kosha from stress is quite complete, and can best be worked on when other acute stressors have been managed. I relate this kosha to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which are physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs and finally self actualization. Maslow believes that “One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualization. Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by failure to meet lower level needs.” It important to still work with this  kosha when dealing with stress, but it would not be the primary kosha to focus on.

Comments are closed.