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Addressing Stress Before It Is Too Late

The Science Behind Stress


Stress is defined by the American Psychological Association Dictionary of Psychology as ‘the physiological or psychological response to internal or external stressors. Stress involves changes affecting nearly every system of the body, influencing how people feel and behave.’


The human body naturally and instinctively reacts to feelings of threat and pressure however the reaction is not always negative. Within the brain, the Hypothalamus Pituitary Axis (HPA) controls how your body reacts to stress. Faced with a stressful situation, your HPA releases the hormone cortisol, priming our body for action (fight or flight response). In some cases, the right amount of stress can be positive and motivating and can drive us to perform effectively to meet demands and achieve our goals. This is also known as ‘eustress’.


However, science reveals that prolonged chronic stress leads to overproduction of cortisol in your brain, inhibiting the HPA's ability to control the effects of stress in your body. This is both emotionally and physically challenging for the brain and the body and presents itself in several emotional and physical symptoms including:


Emotional

- Feeling overwhelmed

- Difficulty relaxing

- Easily frustrated

- Low self-esteem/feelings of loneliness

- Low mood

Physical

- Headaches

- Muscle aches and pains

- Chest pain

- Raised heartbeat

- Insomnia

- High blood pressure