Alan Priestley BSc (Hons) Psychology

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By Alan Priestley, Jul 19 2016 03:25PM

So many people are living with stress in our modern Western society - and it’s definitely not doing us any good.

Anna Magee’s article in the Daily Telegraph of the 18th July “How stress can damage your body” highlights some of the unhelpful things that stress does to our bodies.

There’s a burgeoning field of medical study known as psychoneuroendoimmunology (PNEI) exploring the links between what goes on in our nervous system and the development of illness.

The Lightning Process calls it the PER - physical emergency response. It’s our body’s response to danger and is designed to help us to address it or escape it - often called 'fight or flight'. It’s triggered very rapidly and sends signals to the adrenal glands to release stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenalin - really useful if you need to deal with a wild tiger but damaging if it is triggered for too long.

Dr Valeria Mondelli, senior lecturer in psychological medicine at King’s College London, says “When our cortisol is too high for too long, it can lead to physical and mental problems”.

Unfortunately our pressured lives - the everyday issues of work, family, finance, relationships, etc. - also trigger these same hormones.

The good news is that the Lightning Process provides us with the tools to quickly shift our state from stress to calm, reducing the production of stress hormones, and encouraging the production of “feel good” hormones that bring us back to equilibrium.

The article highlights several areas that are affected by over production of stress hormones - skin, weight, memory, heart condition and healing by the immune system - all well documented by senior academics and healthcare professionals. But focussing on these negative effects doesn’t help us at all. We need to promote healthy thinking, which then promotes a healthy body.

That’s the message of the Lightning Process.

There are many techniques to help us reduce stress - mindfulness, meditation, yoga, exercise, breathing control - but sometimes we need something extra.

The Lightning Process has seen some amazing results for many people. You can read about them at and by looking on YouTube.

If you would like to know more I am always really happy to spend time talking with you about it.

Let’s get rid of stress and get a life that we love!

Health warning! If you really want to read about the problems then there is a summary below with what the experts say. Personally I’d recommend not even going there. Train your brain to focus on the positive answers and not to dwell on the negative issues.

Our skin. Dr Anthony Bewley, consultant dermatologist at Bart’s Hospital Trust, London says “Stress not only delays wound healing, stress hormones also lead to the production of more oil in the skin and the blocking of hair follicles that lead to acne” Conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are also closely linked to stress. “The brain is connected through nerves to the skin, so when you get stressed, you release chemicals in the brain that can be pro-inflammatory and lead to flare-ups.” “We’ve found that if you give a group of psoriasis patients the standard sunlight treatment with mindfulness tapes to relax them, they heal in half the time when compared with those who have the sunlight treatment alone” says Dr Bewley.

Our weight. “High cortisol can affect the transmission of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter linked to our reward system”, says Dr Mondelli. “That makes us more susceptible to seeking rewards by eating more and leads to increased cravings” Cortisol also inhibits the breaking down of fat; storing it to fight a future threat. It may also affect where our fat is deposited on our bodies. “The way people distribute their fat seems to be related to how they respond to stress” says Dr Leigh Gibson, a lecturer in psychology and physiology at the University of Roehampton. “It’s been argued that people who adapt better to stress are less likely top put on visceral fat (fat around the middle).” Visceral fat is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Our memory. “Chronic stress could be a risk factor for dementia”, says Dr Laura Phipps, of Alzheimer’s Research UK. “People with Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to have higher levels of cortisol in the blood, and over time this can cause damage to the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in memory and one of the first areas affected by the disease”

Our heart. Dr Mondelli explains “Elevated stress hormones over time lead to inflammation that damages the internal lining of the blood vessels, which can facilitate the production of artherosclerotic plaques that clog up the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack”

Our ability to recover from illnesses such as cancer. Angela Clow, professor of psychophysiology at the University of Westminster says “We know that though stress doesn’t cause cancer, it can slow down recovery and increase its progression.” “Chronic, prolonged stress can lead to a deficiency in your night-time immunity, which is crucial for cancer protection.” “Studies looking at lifetime survival in breast cancer have shown that after treatment, those with high cortisol levels die statistically earlier and survive less than those with lower levels” Last month, Australian research found high stress levels can lead to cancer cells spreading six times faster.

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