Long before excess stress was the result of project deadlines and computer issues, it was caused more often by the desire to stay alive and protect your family from wild animals and mortal enemies.
This natural response to any threat coming your way is called the ‘fight or flight response.’
For example, if a large dog suddenly appears while you are taking a walk, your fight or flight response will likely kick into gear just in case you need to take action such as scaring the dog away or running for your life (hence the name ‘Fight or Flight Response’)
Where it goes wrong
Your body’s fight-or-flight system is obviously supposed to be self-regulating, meaning that it turns itself off once a threat is no longer. The heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down and glucose levels return to normal as the cortisol and adrenaline levels taper off.
So what if your fight or flight response system is constantly turned on?
This is what occurs when you are constantly worried, nervous, edgy or otherwise stressed day in and day out. The side effect of this is of course that you also have a continuously higher level of cortisol and other stress hormones which can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. The result is an increased risk of certain health problems, including
Keep in mind that what causes you to get stressed is very different from anyone else’s triggers. You no doubt have a few friends who are laid-back about almost everything and others who react strongly at the slightest stress. Most people fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
How to take charge
Stressful events are a fact of life. And though you may not be able to change your current situation, you can take steps to manage the impact these events have on you. This begins with identifying what stresses you out and then from there, fix or get rid of the stressors you have control over and learn to better cope and manage those that you can’t.
Stress management strategies include:
Eating a healthy diet with no fast food and minimal sugar
Getting regular exercise – even a 30 minute walk
Get plenty of sleep
Practicing relaxation techniques – give Yoga or Massage a try
Spending time with positive friends and family
Having a sense of humor
The less control you have over the events and situations in your life that stimulate stress, the more likely you are to feel the negative effects over time; even if you don’t realize the impact it is having on your body. Even the typical day-to-day demands of living can contribute to your body’s stress response.