Today's episode is a science-heavy one. I'm going to discuss the physiological and hormonal process that happens when we experience fear.
When we experience fear, the body is spurred into fight, flight, freeze, or fade syndrome, which is actually quite useful if you're being chased by a predator. The body doesn't know the difference between that and the everyday stressors that we endure. As a result, our bodies are in a constant state of alert, which can cause a number of illnesses.
What are some ways to reduce the effects of cortisol?
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Welcome back to a magical life. I'm your host magic Barclay. And this is your episode 96, the science of fear, we all experience fear. These days, many of us have fear as an automatic setting in our lives. And whether you believe that created by the media, or fanned by the media, whether it's government, whether it's friends, families, the situation going on around you, fear is actually normal, but it's not normal to be in a constant state of fear. So I thought today I would go through some of the science of fear, just so that you, the listeners can see that being afraid of what might happen. Is actually so bad for your health. Like I said, we all experience fear. It's a normal reaction to something that is alarming, but when it's constant, we do ourselves a huge disservice in our health. So let's dive in. So in human evolution, in fact, in any animal evolution and we are animals, let's not think that we're special fear is. Quite useful. It spurs the fight flight freeze fade syndrome, which, you know, if you're being chased by a predator is actually a really good thing to experience. And certainly when you're escaping. An issue with another human being that may be detrimental to your health, to your safety. Again, it's really important that that fight flight freeze fade kick in, and that kicks in, in the brain and it kicks in as a response to not feeling safe. But why do we have that response? Well, the human brain has many parts. It's one of the most complex pieces of natural machinery that there is. And that's what sets us apart from our primate cousins that our human brain. Developed language so we can express. I am fearful. I am scared. We don't just have to lash out physically. We've also been able to explore and research and investigate the parts of the brain. Again, sets us apart from the primates. So there is actually an almond shaped region in the brain and it's situated next to the hypothalamus, which actually acts as our main center for processing emotions, emotional behavior and motivation. And this is called the amygdala. Now the amygdala is very, very important because it sends out neuro-transmitters. Uh, the chemicals of fear. I'll just go back a little bit in history. Once upon a time, there was a researcher called Hans Sonia. He lived from 1907 to 1982 and he was the founder of stress. Sonya was the first scientist to identify stress as non-specific signs and symptoms of illness. Now, he said that ongoing stress creates problems in the body, in the physical body. Now, till then no one had linked up fear and stress with illness. So he was very important in us understanding or comprehending exactly what living in fear could do to the. Now, certainly on this podcast, we spoken about the PNI of trauma. So the psycho neuro endo immunology of trauma. And if you pop back to episode 74, That's the episode we did on that. And that is roughly based on Hansel EA stress theory. And that says that under increased emotional pressure of the psyche, that the neurological system or the nervous system. So the brain and the nerves kicks in changes its state of being. And then that flows onto the endocrine system. So your hormone disruption starts then that flows onto your immune system. So your immunology changes, and this is what we see when we're confronted with what we are these days in the world. This is our PNI system kicking in under constant fear, which has your P your neurons change, your neuro-transmitters change. Your nervous system changes the reaction of your nerves changes. So that's the end. And then we have an immune response. Now, why do we have an immune response? Because we have these extra neuro-transmitters jumping around in our brain, flowing through our adrenals and our immune system sees that as the invader, not the thing that we're scared of, but the chemical reaction in the body. So we have an immune response and this is why we see so much of a spike, an increase in illness in times of fear, let's get back to the brain because I did say this was a science lesson. So. In the brain, we have several parts that are actually involved in a fear response. So we have the Thelma's, which decides where to send incoming sensory data. Now that comes from our eyes, his mouth skin knows we have our sensory cortex, which interprets that sensory data. We have the hippocampus. Which is located down towards the brainstem and that stores in retrieves conscious memories, processes, sets of stimuli and establishes a context. Then we have the amygdala back to the amygdala, which actually decodes emotions, determines threats and stores, fear memories. Just on that. Yes. Fear can be a man. So when you're a child, you might smell the cologne or a perfume or a food or Petrel. It could be anything. And if something fearful happens at that time, your make Della stores, that memory, and then when you're 40, 50, whatever, and you smell that thing again, fear jumps back in. And we also have the hypothalamus, which actually activates that fight flight freeze fade response that we discussed just before now that little snapshot of parts of the brain really doesn't do. Enough justice because the brain is a complex organ is actually more than 100 billion nerve cells in a really tight, intricate network that communicate. And they're the starting point of everything we do think, feel, say, believe some of the. React to conscious thought and action, but many are autonomic responses that is weak. Don't decide that they happen. And this is where the science of fear kicks in. Some things are out of our control in our brain, these autonomic responses. They're not in our control. But there are some responses that are, and when you recognize that there is a change, you need to take note. Now, some of those physical changes might be you start feeling a bit hot inside or hot in the face. Your skin might start getting a bit itchy, or it might start to feel like it's burning up a little. You might find yourself getting a little bit irritable. Come on. We've all had those days. When you know, you go to the office, someone drops a pencil and you feel like ripping their head off. That's a sign that something's not right. There are other responses. We have like depression, lethargy, melancholy, and these can be responses to fear. And I'll explain it. So there are many chemicals in the brain. The brain is your chemistry center, your chemistry lab of your body. It actually has more chemical reactions happening there than anywhere else in the body, except for the. And why do I say except for the gut? Well, the gut is actually your first brain. Your gut is where your body decides what is happening and then your brain in your head response. But we're talking about the brain in the head today. So it's actually a group of 10 molecules and more than 50 neuro active proteins that formed the neuro-transmitters. That our brain sends around our body and the gut sends a random body. Now, these chemicals can't determine what their effect. In fact that is controlled by a receptor. Now every chemical reaction in the body involves a receptor and side note. When we take a lot of big pharma medications, what we're doing is purposefully dulling receptors. And when you Del receptors, your body doesn't get the feedback that it needs to continue the process. So when we're on multiple medications, we can feel like we're going nowhere. Look, we're stuck on a treadmill for our lives. And that's exactly what you're physically doing to your body. But that's a side note. This episode is not about big pharma or anything like that. It's just to give you information. now there are some main processes in the brain and we actually call them. Systems in the brain. And some of these chemicals that we create in response to fear in response to, or any emotion actually have their own system. And the main ones are the dope men system, the adrenaline system, the serotonin system. And the main one that we know about is. The cortisol system. And we've all heard about cortisol. That is not our only drug created in the brain. So I did say that fear can cause depression. So let's go through the chemicals that are aligned with depressive disorders, with melancholy, with Lyft. So we have serotonin and nor epinephrin studies have actually shown that low serotonin levels in the brain can lead to anxiety, irritability, sleep disorders, things that are normally associated with depression, reduced levels of Knorr epinephrin, which is a chemical responsible for arousal and alertness can actually lead to fatigue and a general depressed mood. Now people that have problems with dopamine often also have problems with addiction to alcohol and drugs because these things can actually stimulate the feeling of dopamine in the body without actual. Having the natural dopamine. Now, when people are on antidepressants, it's suppose to be that they're increasing a transmission of brain chemicals, like no epinephrin and serotonin, but if you look at what an antidepressant normally is, it's called an SSRI. Which is a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor. So it's actually stopping the natural process of the production of serotonin, the decoding of the message of the serotonin and then the application of that. So they don't produce any new serotonin. They just slow the breakdown process of the serotonin and Noah epinephrin. And it's supposed to allow the transmitters or receptors in the body to use these chemicals in a more effective way. I don't know how many of you have ever driven out of your driveway with your hand brake on the Castile goes, it's not happy about it. If you do that often. And. Your handbrake breaks, it stops working. You lose an integral part of your car because for so long you had the brakes on and engaged, and then you tried to do something against that action at the same time. So when we Del these receptors, we start telling our body, do you know what? I don't want you to read that serotonin. All that. No, epinephrin so why don't we just switch you off now? I don't know about you, but I don't particularly want really important processes in my brain. Just switching off. Now we have chemicals in our body and our brains that make us happy. now serotonin, which we just discussed users and amino acid code trip to fan. And with that, it helps maintain a process that makes us feel happy, controls, mood, swings, sleep, anxiety levels. And we also have another chemical called dopamine, which makes us excited, makes us want to talk to people. It controls emotional responses, movements of the body, the body's ability to experience pain and pleasure. And we have a Seattle Coleen, which relates to us feeling happy or experiencing happiness. Uh, central Coleen OSA helps us experience arousal sexual performance it controls our blood flow down to our private parts. And it's actually believed in scientific research that a happy person has high levels of all of these chemicals. Now, if any of these chemicals in the brain are imbalanced, what do you think's going to happen? Things are going to go wrong. You won't be able to feel happiness. You won't understand. Pain and pleasure. Your heart rate might become fast. You'd become nervous. You might share that you can't control your body temperature. You can't control your reactions. The rest of your body will actually interpret all these signals to create fear. So this is internally created for you. But what happens when we experience externally created fear, let's get back to the make Della the main substance or hormone. That we experience issues with when we're in fear is cortisol. And the amygdala is the area of our brain that signals to our adrenals, which are located just above our kidneys, that cortisol the stress hormone must be released. Now there's a couple. Important times in our lives when cortisol is released. So cortisol is released when we're under fear or threat. External cortisol is released when we're under fear or threat. Internal cortisol is released when we are having a change in our life. So for women that's known as menopause. The men code Andrew pause. But for both, it really should be called Adreno pause because that is when we no longer make all our other hormones in our body, in our private areas, but we make them from the adrenals. Now, till this point in our lives, our adrenals. Responsible for creating a reaction to fear. And when we live in a deep state of fear, we can exhaust these adrenals or receptors. Cortisol receptors can switch off and we can flood our body with cortisol. What does that look like? It looks like that tummy that won't go. That roundness in the middle of your body, the double triple chins, that just don't go anywhere. The non restful sleep that you've experienced for 20 years, excess cortisol can kill it. Can kill us physically, emotionally, mentally. Cortisol can be a killer, but when you're not in a constant state of fear and you hit a Draino, pause, cortisol has an important role to play and it is supposed to be what you now make your hormones from. Right? It's a cortisol is a hormone. It's a master hormone, but it's also a sugar. So what happens when you have excess cortisol in your body? Well, what can happen is that your blood sugars increase, obviously your bodies physicality changes. So there is strain on other parts of the body, but as your blood sugars increase. Because cortisol is a sugar there's too much of it in your body, the receptors dull, and you can find other problems like becoming insulin resistant. You could have type two diabetes mellitus. That's not what you're eating. That's the problem. Okay. Well sometimes it is, but in most cases it's because your body is full of sugar in the form of cortisol and your body can not distinguish what's going on because all sugars are broken into glycogen and your body just sees that there's too much sugar. So you think, okay, I'm going to go on a low sugar diet, a low fat diet. I'm going to try and get rid of this tummy. You know, I'm not happy because of the tummy. And the more you think you're not happy because of that more cortisol you release into your system. So you're still feeding this cycle. So you go into a low sugar, low fat diet. And if you're a woman and you're menopausal, that can be the worst thing that you do because now your estrogen receptors are out of whack and you start getting low estrogen because you can't. Make your hormones properly in your adrenals. And so then you start getting hot flashes and mood swings. So a lot can happen when cortisol is released. Why does it get bad for some people and not for others in Adreno? Pause comes back to the fear you experienced in your life, what you do to dissipate that. Because the more you release this cortisol before Adreno pause, more chance there is that your receptors aren't working properly. So you can see how everything's tying in here. So the science of fear, look, we could do a two hour episode on this and I still wouldn't have even scratched the surface. I'm just giving you some of the basic. But the science of fear, it's not something we can avoid, but it's something we can lessen suffering from. So what are some main tips I have for you? The listeners to reduce the effects of cortisol. Of epinephrin of nor epinephrin of all these wonderful chemicals our body makes. Well, the first thing is, do not choose to live in fear now, in an episode that I recently recorded with one of our lovely guests, this guest said that fear could be summed up as false expectation appearing. And I really, really love that because it's true. It's what we see. The stuff that we're processing could be completely folks. Our lives are not in danger from it. There is no predator hunting us down, but it appears that that's real. And especially at moment in a world that can be applied. Fear can also be summed up as forget everything in. I'll forget everything and rise. So you have a lot of choices when you're experiencing fear. Do you let it boost you into action or do you let it crumble you into a heap? Because when you let it crumble you into a heap, that's when a lot of other things happen in your body, a lot of other chemical reactions. But if you let it inspire you into action, because you realize it's a false expectation, appearing real, and you draw your line in the sand, you become master of your own destiny. Like I could go on with these phrases, they're out there for a reason, but when you take control of things, You change your internal reactions to fear and you create health. So how do we do that? The first thing I can say, switch off your TV listeners. It's not telling you the truth. Don't get into fear porn either. So there's a lot of people in the world at the moment that are. Oversharing lots of stuff and creating this constant fear response. They mean well, but we don't need to see it all decide what your line in the sand is, decide what you stand for. But most of all decide to do you, you do, you. I do me, they do them. That's the way it's supposed to. Obviously you can care for your loved ones, your family, your friends, but you have to do you, you have to put yourself first. So turn off your TV is one thing. Get out into nature, even if it's only a 20 minute walk, breathe in the essential oils from the trees. Where no shoes put your feet in the dirt, get some minerals through grounding, get some early morning sun that helps you make the good chemicals that you need in your gut to send to your brain to help you sleep at night and to help you cope with the stress of the day. Be well hydrated. But make sure that you have something in the water structure, your water, and we might do an episode on that later on structured water eight. Well, if your food is in a packet, it has chemicals. If your food comes from the land, it has less chemicals. Eight, well, stop eating numbers and long names go and Aiden, apple, or a strawberry or whatever. But if you can't pronounce all the ingredients in your food, you shouldn't be eating. Make sure that you breathe. You take time to breathe. Now, if you live in a city, obviously the air won't be as clean. The code of your park, go for a drive somewhere and go to the beach or the Bush or wherever so that you can breathe some cleaner air. But my main tip here is don't live in fear. Fear creates illness. And I've given you a little bit of the science of fear, but that's a merry-go-round you can get off, you just have to make the choice to do so. Very dry episode for you folks. But I thought it was really important to explain some of the science like yourself. I could make this a two hour episode for you. You'd all be asleep in your chairs or wherever you are when you're listening to the podcasts. And I'm not going to do that to you. So I've just given you a tiny, tiny snapshot of the science of. Coming up in episodes, 97 and 98. We have Gregory and Cox talking about the power of five and rebellious wellness. We have many more fantastic guests that we've been super busy recording for your listeners. Thank you again for your time. Go forth and create your magical life.