Iowa Specialty Hospital

Making the Rounds with Dr. Hurt

August 27, 2015


I’m not a neurobiologist, but I like to play one for purposes of writing an article. I have been learning a lot about the stress response in humans. Back in the days when we had to literally worry about survival, (shelter from the elements, food, clothing and not being eaten or mauled). our stressors were easy to identify. We responded with fight or flight (our sympathetic nervous system). Currently, the majority of us don’t need to worry about basic needs, but we still respond in a similar fashion (physiologically) to perceived threats (stimuli of stress-usually our own thoughts and fears). We don’t know how to deal with rejection or failure, and we tend to ruminate or beat ourselves up.

Every kid knows to put a bandage on a cut to begin healing, but not how to deal with rejection or failure. They don’t even recognize the thoughts before they produce the stress or fear (FEAR=False Events Appearing Real) response. This stress can greatly affect our health and well-being. The sad thing is that we can get into a pattern of stimulus and response. For example, someone rejects you or your ideas. You immediately have thoughts that may not be kind to yourself, may lead to feeling bad, and may even end up in maladaptive behaviors (smoking, drinking, drugs, etc.).  

Please follow this link: to an excellent TED talk on emotional hygiene. I think this is particularly pertinent to us. Our mental health team has shared with us that Wright County is number one in the state for substance abuse and child abuse. We see many people in our healthcare system suffering from bad thoughts and vicious stimulus/response cycles.

The next time you find yourself in a negative thought pattern, take a deep breath. Remind yourself you don’t have to believe everything you think. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Practice this and over time you will FEEL better!

Freedom is to pause between stimulus and response and in the pause, to choose.  - some really smart neuroscientist

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