Stress is emotional or physical tension created by a perceived challenge, demand, or threat.
In some cases, a stressor might be a singular occurrence or event. Stressors may accumulate over time before surfacing.
Some common stress triggers include:
- Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities or pressure due to work, family issues, or school.
- Worrying about a situation where there isn’t much control over the outcome.
- Experiencing conflict, like an argument with a friend or loved one.
- Encountering sudden and/or major life changes.
Issues concerning money, health, work, or relationships.
- Information communicated by the news or other media outlets.
- A traumatic experience where numerous people are in danger of being significantly hurt or even killed.
Everybody reacts differently, but we all have a feeling we get when we’re in a stressful situation. This is called a stress reaction, and it may develop over the course of a few minutes, hours, or days.
The stress reaction has often been called the “fight, flight, or freeze response.” It is an automatic, physical reaction to a challenge or potential threat and typically emerges with more severe stressors.
It’s designed to help us focus, alert us to danger, and keep us safe. It is a natural response in the body, so everyone will experience it at some point in their lives.
Stress reaction may cause a physical response, including:
- Heart rate increases
- Respiratory (breathing) rate rises
- The brain becomes intensely focused
- Muscles prepare to fire
The stress reaction can also cause emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal reactions, depending on the person and the stressors. This could include concentration, physical tension, irritability, anger, and more symptoms.
In the next post, we will talk about ways to reduce stress and increase recovery!