Stress 101: The Science Behind Stress
Updated: Jun 24, 2021
Are you feeling irritable, restless or moody? Do you feel overwhelmed or isolated? You’re probably just stressed out.
Stress is the body’s way of making us more alert and equipped to take on life’s challenges. However, stress can feel like a constant worry or headache. Moreover, it is not something that happens only in the mind. Research shows that our entire body gets affected by stress.
What is stress?
When we encounter a perceived threat or are placed in a stressful situation, the hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of the brain, sets off an alarm through a combination of nerves and hormonal signals. This signal prompts the adrenal glands located on top of our kidneys to release a surge of hormones including Adrenaline and Cortisol. Adrenaline increases our heart rate, elevates our blood pressure and boosts energy supplies.
Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases the level of sugar and glucose in the bloodstream. This natural reaction is called the stress response and it can help us a lot in critical situations such as when met with a potentially dangerous situation. Also, this stress response enhances a person’s ability to work under pressure. In a milder form and if managed, the stress response can help one perform better. The problem occurs when we hold on to stress for a prolonged period, leading to long-term problems for the heart and blood vessels. The consistent increase in heart rate, and the elevated levels of stress hormone and blood pressure, can take a toll on the body.
Types of Stress
Stress can be broadly classified into acute and chronic stress.
Acute Stress: Acute stress happens to everyone. It is the body’s immediate reaction to a demanding situation and it may even happen to us while doing something we enjoy, like taking a roller coaster ride. The body goes back to normal after the incident passes. There are cases where a traumatic incident affects us severely and causes PTSD(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Chronic Stress: Chronic stress happens when we have high-stress levels for an extended period. Long term stress like this can harm our health and cause anxiety, depression and even cardiovascular diseases. Chronic stress can also cause headaches and sleep difficulties.
Ways to manage stress:
Stress caused by our lifestyle can be managed to a certain degree, without professional help. Here are seven proven tips to manage stress:
Sleep: Sleep is the time when the brain and the body recharge. Even napping reduces cortisol levels
Healthy diet: Providing the right nutrition to the body is essential to repair the damage done during stress
More music: Listening to music is a good stress reliever as it releases biochemical stress reducers in the body
Laugh: Laughter cools down the stress response, reduces heart rate and blood pressure, producing a relaxed feeling
Meditation: Relaxation exercises such as meditation help us to de-stress by reducing cortisol levels. Deep breathing temporarily reduces blood pressure
Active lifestyle: Regular exercise facilitates the production of endorphins (our natural feel-good hormones)
Get Dozee: Start tracking your stress levels with precise reports to maintain a healthy lifestyle
While stress is a normal part of life, too much stress is quite harmful to our mental and physical well being. Staying in tune with our body and mind, and knowing when to take a step back and relax is important to live a healthy, productive life.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.