12. DNA - Primal Operating Software
Every animal has a brain. The human brain however, is unique among the animal kingdom and has the ability to use higher brain function such as thought, analysis, reasoning and action.
Our primal brain’s basic programming is to 'Fight or Flee' when in danger to survive. This is our spontaneous reaction when we sense danger. When we feel threatened in any way or worried, real or imagined, our brain is programmed to release chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol into our body. These chemicals quickly alter the way we think, feel and behave. They make it difficult to think clearly, to process information or to take in new information. Scientists believe that we relate and learn best when we are happy and relaxed. This is when our brain processes information most efficiently.
CORTISOL is our primary stress hormone. We release it when we are under any sort of pressure. It is our evolutionary-based fight or flight response. The amount of cortisol in our body is driven by the amount of stress we are experiencing. In addition, caffeine consumption, our eating patterns, how much physical activity we do and our sleep patterns all affect how much cortisol is released in our system. Cortisol binds to receptors on the fat cells, liver and pancreas which increases glucose levels available for muscles to use to 'fight or flee'. Cortisol temporarily inhibits other systems of the body, including digestion, growth, reproduction and the immune system.
ADRENALINE, another stress chemical, primarily binds to receptors on the heart and heart vessels. This increases heart rate, force of muscle contraction and respiration.
When stressed by excessive demands, our brain function is impaired which means new ideas, new concepts, creativity and imagination are stifled. However, we can learn to challenge the thoughts and feelings connected to stress in order to manage our stress. By working out our values - who and what is important to us, our responsibilities, what is real and imagined - we can clear our conscience and give ourselves peace.
"I was under continuous stress, both at work trying to reach the unachievable targets set for me by the head office in New York and at home, because I was not spending enough time with the family. The stress hormones and the amount of caffeine I was consuming to keep alert kept me from sleeping properly, so I used alcohol to put me to sleep."