Stress Head and How to Fix It

Libby Kemkaran

Why are we stressed?

As a vet there is a growing horror in me about how frequently I see posts of ‘I can’t take this anymore’.  We have gone beyond the point where the profession is ticking along, and we are now into crisis state, and your body is the biochemical warzone.

Chronic shortage of team members and a rising tide of aggressive attacks from clients and the social media army has lead to a swathe of us vetty people running brain and body biochemistry that is now downright unsustainable.

Your brain is old, and your software running it, outdated.  We are not built for chronic ongoing unremitting stress.  Your body keeps the score, and it WILL show you massive red flags.

What does the stress do to you?

The feelings of stress directly relate to how likely your brain feels you are in danger of death.  Fear and anxiety are a lovely little added incentive gift from your brain to force your body to move to safety.  When you can’t, that compounds the initial threat and it feels even worse.

It’s like the sentry standing on the bridge of the ship shouting ‘Watch out!  Rocks!  Polar Bears!!’  If you ignore and keep sailing… Literally, Titanic feelings will arise. The sentry is shouting at you for a reason. You need to turn the ship.

The limbic brain is running based on the good old fashioned sabre tooth tiger threat.  We have fight or flight as our two traditional escape mechanisms.  Equally, freeze (rabbit in headlights), flop (play dead) and friend (please love me, spaniel tummy, roll over in appeasement) are in the middle of these two extremes.

When we ignore or downregulate these very natural responses (hello, resilience training I’m talking to you), then we create a shut down.  We suppress, anger turns inwards, depression and anxiety become commonplace.  Burnout comes from this.

How to regulate your nervous system

Newsflash, it is AS bad to overregulate as it is to underregulate your nervous system.  Let me explain.

In the old days, as a good caveperson, if you see a sabre tooth tiger it is eminently sensible to pay attention to it. If you’re about to die then there’s no point digesting your last meal, so yes let’s divert our blood flow away from the gut to our legs to give us really tight calf muscles to run or kick.  Tighten up those shoulder and neck muscles.  The tide of adrenaline sensibly shuts down our future planning creative neocortex in the brain and diverts blood flow to where it counts, tunnel vision and our immediate knee-jerk response.  We become more chimp like.  Blue light brain is another way to think about it.

Suppressing these vital pathways causes shutdown, dissociation and despair. Underragulation of the pathways leads to heart rate through the roof, feelings of dread, and spiralling sympathetic nervous system responses.

But what if the challenge is no tiger, but instead a difficult client?  Or a row with a boss or colleague? Yep, same system still runs.  But here’s the thing.  Sabres were an immediate threat and then gone.  Now with chronically overloaded vets and teams, the stress never really goes away.  The hours are relentless with little bodily safety or control to rest and repair.  So instead, we begin to habituate.  We upregulate our adrenals in a phasic adaptive response to the repeated floods of cortisol.  So it may feel better for a while, but it’s by no means solved.

What happens in the longer term?

When pain is repeated, our nervous system gets tired.  We start to run subtle and subconscious avoidance behaviours.  We procrastinate.  We stop planning anything.  We move from thrive to survive.  Our autonomic nervous system begins to expect to feel dysregulated.  This changes our interpersonal relationships and our Right brain literally begins to expect the worst.

Ever heard that phrase ‘I wouldn’t have seen it if I didn’t believe it’?

We will now begin to elicit responses in others that match our model of the world once we’ve lived like this for too long.  Our pre-framed right brain is now almost expecting disaster.  It’s then manifested more easily as your Right amygdala communicates with your Cingulate Gyrus and your Orbitofrontal Cortex for anyone wanting the exact mapping on this.

But you don’t need to know that.  You just need to know what you can do about it.

What can you do about stress?

I’m running a ‘Stress Solution’ Microclass to tackle exactly this.

I’m going to go through the mechanisms and how to interrupt them, exactly what neurohacks you can use to scratch the record and stop it playing, and how to rebuild healthier right brain activity for a regulated autonomic nervous system response set up.

Because I don’t believe that it is okay to not feel okay for long periods of time.  It’s exhausting, and you have to change something.  You can’t change what’s around you, but you can change the meaning you give it, and, what you do about it. It’s called alignment and it’s incredibly powerful.

Getting back into alignment is sometimes a shift of 1 degree.  But you do have to shift.  Otherwise you end up somewhere very different from where you planned.

I’ll go through what repeated trauma does to the brain and body, where we hold it, and how to hack your way out.  I’ll also cover what steps we need to take to protect ourselves in this current market.

Click here to sign up to this vital class, I’ll see you there.

Business Psychologist, TEDx speaker and circle host, Libby is a peak
performance Neurocoach and accredited Flow Consultant for senior leadership
and entrepreneurs.

Libby spent 5yrs working as a small animal clinician before a car crash left her
unable to work as a vet. She then combined her Behaviour degree from
Cambridge with her Business Consultancy and Coaching skills from her time in
the city to create the ground-breaking Tame Your Brain® programme.
Libby is also the creator of the ‘Big Cat Business Brain®’ a neurological profiling
tool which is used by coaches the world over to give their clients blinding clarity
on how to get out of their own way.

She trains multi-million dollar companies in Leadership/Management,
Communications, and Mindset for Success and blends together bullet-proof
Strategy with Behavioural Psychology and Neuro-associative Conditioning. Libby
was the winner of Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 in the Global Women Awards.
This year she is on the Digital Women “50 to watch”, is a finalist in their
Entrepreneur of the Year award and has also further been nominated for
Inspirational Entrepreneur of the Year at the Global Women Awards.