Stress: symptom of a modern age?
A while ago I was at a prize giving ceremony at my son's school. Prizes were flying out all over the place for art, maths, sport, you name it. One prize sticks in my mind. The beaming teacher announced: 'And the prize for dealing with stress goes to...' What's this? The stress prize?
Now I'd really heard everything. As a bemused seven year-old wandered on to the stage, we all looked on sympathetically, wondering what had caused the stress this child had coped with so prize-winningly.
Everybody's doing it!
'Stress' is the modern pariah. It's a cover-all term. 'Stress' can make people physically sick, suicidal, depressed, unable to think clearly or learn new things, unable to digest food, less able to fight bacteria and disease, uninterested in sex and unable to work. In short, it can make life seem not worth living. Yet I can say I am 'stressed' if I'm late for work because I mislaid my keys and am therefore a little irked!
So how can 'stress' cause a person to suffer so much physically and emotionally?
Hungry lions and mortgage repayments
To be stressed, you need something to give you the stress; a stressor. The stressor will be real or imagined. If you react with stress to something real (a hungry lion coming towards you) you experience fear. Your adrenal glands pump your system full of adrenaline, speeding heart rate and breathing, you begin to sweat and basically things become set for exercise. Your body is primed for fight or flight (for me it's flight!). Safari so good, this is when you need your stress response.
But what if you merely imagine something stressful?
Producing stress from within
If you experience your stress response kicking in when merely imagining a lion might be around, you have anxiety.
- Fear is the response to something actual happening now.
- Anxiety is the response to something imagined and anticipated in the future.
But how does stress produce so many physical symptoms? There are good reasons why long term stress sufferers can develop lowered immune response, reduced digestive capacity, loss of sex drive, impaired thought, heart disease etc.
Next, Major stress reaction
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