I’m writing this following my second session of Group C.B.T.
This session broke down why we feel stress from an evolutionary perspective, linked essentially to our most basic fight or flight response, which we still use in stressful situations, albeit not usually to get away from a large predator as in days of yore.
We explored how this response is physically manifested in the body and how the body prepares itself to assess and respond to what it perceives to be a threat. The response is useful and natural, just not necessarily in some of the situations we find ourselves in, at least not to an extreme and exhausting level.
It is also important to note that the perception of a threat may be impaired by thoughts that aren’t rational or “true” – as such you might believe a threat is more dangerous than it actually is, and you would reach that same conclusion if you allowed yourself the time and space.
Unfortunately it’s in that space where you feel your back is against the wall that it takes a lot of will and skill to pull back out of everything your body is telling you. Since finding out about my condition, I’m very attuned to what my body is saying, almost sadly to the extent that I don’t really feel pleasure being physical sometimes, and I’m not being euphemistic, I mean basic things like enjoying a stroll or running a race around against someone.
I don’t privilege pleasure because I’m very careful about what my body says day to day on a needs basis. Pleasure does get inhibited if you are stressed or anxious because it’s not necessary as an impulse when you’re in”running from a predator” mode.
It does irk me though, because I am at heart a child of derring-do, tactility and a cake loving sensualist. (It’s very Taurean of me, for an Aries.) Did I mention how much I love cake whilst now on a self imposed ban? Getting moving was mentioned however in regard to upping the amount of seratonin that we naturally produce, the happy hormone which evil, evil cortisol eats up as part of the stress squad on a chemical level. Cortisol and I… do not get on, in the equation of bipolar episodes.
Boo. Get off the stage, cortisol!
Today’s session contained useful stuff that was somewhat affirming in a: “Yes, I understand and recognise this” way – also we have been given those breathing exercises beloved of opera singers – diaphragm breathing. Even though I don’t hyperventilate I will use them as “stopping” time, before things get too overwhelming in an anxiety attack I think.
All in all, I’m quite relieved to say this session was better, in terms of active tools to manage things. Next, is combating negative thoughts…
~ Pola ~