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Stress: Signs and Symptoms, Causes and Effects

What is stress?
The stress response of the body is meant to protect and support us. To maintain stability or homeostasis, the body is constantly adjusting to its surroundings. When a physical or mental event threatens this equilibrium, we react to it. This process is often referred to as the "fight or flight response." We prepare for physical action in order to confront or flee a threat.
Our ancestors responded to stressful ordeals in this fashion. Millions of years later, when you face a situation that you perceive as challenging, your body automatically goes into overdrive, engaging the stress response. Immediately, you release the same hormones that enabled cave people to move and think faster, hit harder, see better, hear more acutely, and jump higher than they could only seconds earlier. Like theirs, your heartbeat speeds up; your blood pressure increases; your breathing quickens. Most modern stresses, however, do not call for either fight or flight. Our experience of stress is generally related to how we respond to an event, not to the event itself.
When is stress a warning signal?
When it is part of a natural reaction to challenge or danger, the body’s response is called positive stress. However, when you feel out of control or under intense pressure, you may experience the physical, emotional, or relational symptoms brought on by negative stress. These are the signs of stress that you need to recognize and control. It is important to remain attentive to negative stress symtoms and to learn to identify the situations that evoke them. When these symptoms persist, you are at risk for serious health problems because stress can exhaust your immune system. Recent research demonstrates that 90% of illness is stress-related.
It is not possible to live without any stress. We can, however, learn ways to handle the stress of daily life efficiently, and to manage our reactions to stress and minimize its negative impact.

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