STRESS, at an excessive level, poisons our lives, in the proper and figurative meanings:
Not only does it make life unpleasant, it sickens people.
According to Dr Hebert Benson, of the Harvard University Mind/Body Medical Institute, approximately 80% of medical consultations are related to stress, one way or another, as well as 60% to 80% of work injuries, according to the American Institute of Stress.
Keep reading to learn about your stress symptoms signs!
Nowadays, stress appears in daily conversations, even in children’s, but the word itself is source of some confusion.
- Do things look to me like a mountain because I am stressed out, or is it in reverse?
- Is stress part of my job requirement, or is it in my head?
- Do I worry too much?
« If I could just relax, say many chronically stressed people, I surely wouldn’t have so much stress!»
If it’s possible to better resist physically and mentally to stress and even to transform it into a helpful life engine, it does require one to take the time to make it so.
The Self-Regulating Stress Response topic will be covered in a forthcoming article entitled:
Free Mindfulness Exercises
The Three Components of Stress
When we speak of stress, the 3 following elements are necessarily present, however combined in very diverse ways:
1- The Agent, or Source, of Stress
A physical, mental, social or emotional stimulus happens, to which we must adapt.
This stimulus can be one or several of many things:
This stimulus can be minor (like a speeding ticket), or major (a job change or move), positive (a marriage) or negative (a conflict), exceptional (a surgery) or constant (a busy schedule), planned (an exam) or unplanned (an accident), etc.
Let’s say also that stress can be physiological, such as caused by medication, an injury, or being out in the cold weather, since our bodies need to react by modifying our chemistry.
Lack of stimulation can also create stress. However, the opposite is generally true in our era, especially stress related to lifestyle, and psychological stress.
2- The Attitude Towards Stress
The intensity of the stress reaction will depend on the message sent by the brain to the endocrinal glands.
But this message will be modulated by how we perceive the stressful stimulus:
Whether we perceive the stimulus as a lesser or greater danger, more demanding or constraining, will lower or increase the baseline message of change sent by the brain to the glands.
For example, being late by 5 minutes will generally not lead to stress, unless one is going to miss an important train, or if the brain imagines any other catastrophic scenario, perhaps quite improbably, but that is perceived as the almost real reality.
This could happen if our education has ferociously trained us to be punctual.
A negative attitude or unrealistic expectations also lead to stress issues.
In summary, stress is a reflex reaction, both psychological and physiological, of the organism in front of a difficult situation, which requires an adaptation.
3- The Reaction to Stress
When the brain sends an alarm, immediate physiological reactions, like an increase of the cardiac rhythm, blood vessel constriction and an adrenalin increase, ensure that the body can react to the event.
These physiological reactions are unfortunately accompanied by an alarm, of mobilisation and defence against an attack, or at least a situation perceived as such. And herein lies the problem.
Stress reactions are idiosyncratic to the individual.
Stress has an adaptive function that mobilizes our ressources in order to either address a threat or other important change in our environment, as well as to simply keep us motivated to do our best…
In small dosis, stress can be POSITIVE!
But if stress persists for longer than just the necessary time to “Fight the tiger or to flee”, meaning to the point where we are constantly running in emergency code, the active physiological mechanisms will lead to psychological and/or physical signs: The Stress Symptoms.
Are you among the ones who stay zen under all circumstances?
Good for you!
Click here for an inventory of…
Your Stress Symptoms Signs!
You might be surprised!