Is Fear Good or Bad?

Fear is an emotion that alerts us to danger.  At its core, it is protective telling us to safeguard in some way. When a fearful state is long term, negative changes result in the body. The emotional center of the brain, the amygdala, can operate independently of our conscious thought. The amygdala can process information quicker than the logic center of our brain (cortex). This is good in that it can sense danger before we see it or are aware of it. This is bad in that without conscious thought the amygdala processes information in less detail and generalizes “Fear=bad=run”. The amygdala can override the cortex and produce reactions that are not based in logic or factual information. Once the amygdala activates a panic response the cortex is less effective in processing information. This means our thinking cannot adapt appropriately to the situation. It is not unusual to see people reacting erratically when faced with a stressful unfamiliar situation. People have committed homicide to “protect’ their family during this recent pandemic outbreak.  Seems illogical to most of us, but is it possible fear was running the show?

Although this is extreme, there are less severe examples of people, uncharacteristically, hoarding food, stealing, abusing loved ones, stockpiling guns and ammunition, and crying uncontrollably etc. Is fear running the show? 

Once the emotional center is in reaction mode how does one return to a calmer state of decision making, especially, if the threat is still present. 

How can one walk THROUGH the valley of death without fearing evil? How can we live fearlessly?

The answer is hope. Hope is a conscious thought and an emotion. It has the potential to stimulate both the emotional and cognitive centers simultaneously. It can trigger positive reactions in the body and equip us to face the dangers ahead, but where does it come from.

Our hope comes from the Lord. If death does not come to those who believe than what is there to fear. Isn’t death, ultimately, what we fear?

Hope defined as the confident expectation of good does not have an element of negativity associated with it. It is the confident, undeniable, expectation, known result, of good. Now if one does not fully understand the love and character of the Lord, hope, as defined above, does not exist. If one is placing hope in vaccines, treatments, government policies, and our own efforts to protect ourselves we have no confidence in a good result, because all these things must work together for the positive outcome. Instead, what occurs is judgement.  We look at family, friends, leaders, and government with a critical eye and question their every move and even measure it against our own thoughts and ideas. This only creates more fear, not hope, because now we see them as “not doing it right”.

Inevitably, if we place our hope in these entities and ourselves working together there will be failure and fear will abound. However, our Lord works all things out for the good of those who love him. That means in the midst of failures from family, friends, leaders, and governments, the Lord works it all together for good. Despite their imperfections, the Lord works it out for good. That is hope. Furthermore, if you know the character of the Lord, you will know and fully understand he does not want anyone to perish. Put your hope in the Lord-He is our salvation in this valley of death through which we walk.

Stress on a Body

In a healthy stress response your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises.  You are ready for action – This response is known as “fight or flight”. It is how you protect yourself!  Levels of stress hormones rise to meet the demands of the situation and fall once the situation is resolved.  Our bodies are designed to handle small doses of stress. We are not, however, equipped to handle long term chronic stresses without ill effects.  Stress is linked to headaches, muscle tension and pain, mental health problems, infectious illnesses (i.e. cold and flu), cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma, gastric ulcers, and more.

When we’re stressed the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful foreign bodies (antigens) is reduced. The immune system is a collection of billions of cells that travel through the bloodstream. These cells move in and out of tissues and organs defending the body against antigens, such as viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells. Ongoing stress makes us susceptible to illness and disease, because the brain continually sends defense signals to the endocrine system. In response, this system releases a collection of hormones that not only prepares us for emergency situations but severely depresses our immunity at the same time.  One stress hormone called corticosteroid can lower the number of white blood cells circulating in our bloodstream. These cells are critical in fighting off illnesses. During prolonged periods of stress corticosteroids are continually being released and white bloods cells count continually lowered. With a lower than optimal white cell count our immune system becomes suppressed and less effective in performing its job. That is why we are more susceptible to infections in stressful times. 

In addition, our choices in times of stress often include comfort measures in the form of unhealthy behavioral coping strategies such as poor food choices, decreased activity/exercise, increased tobacco and alcohol use, excessive electronic use and TV watching. These behaviors impair our ability to attain a healthy sleep state which is imperative during high stress levels to allow for normal brain activity and immunity. Therefore, ultimately, when we are under long periods of stress our immunity is suppressed and our bodies are fatigued from lack of sleep. This means we are functioning in a severely compromised state.

There is hope, however. Receiving care that restores the body to its natural alignment reduces unnecessary stress on muscles and joints. Proper mobility of the rib cage, neck, and head can equip the body to facilitate increased bloodflow. This increased bloodflow allows white blood cells to move more efficiently throughout our tissues and organs.  

Furthermore, proper head, neck, and trunk alignment improves lung expansion for increased respiration depth. Deeper breathing releases muscle tension, soothes irritated nerves, and lowers blood pressure.  These changes can often inform the brain to switch off the fight or flight response so the body can return to a calmer and more comfortable state.

In addition, alignment of the body stimulates an overall sense of wellbeing that has long lasting outcomes.  Feeling better results in an improved emotional state leading to positive food and lifestyle choices and sleep patterns. All of which boost your immune system. Take Care of You!!