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Stress Response Activation

September 27, 20232 min read

If you can’t fly then run; if you can’t run then walk; if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. – Martin Luther King Jr

When our stress response is activated...

Activation of the Stress Response

When we encounter something stressful, like needing to do a speech or we get in a car accident, our body goes into what's called the "stress response."

This is like a built-in alarm system designed to help us deal with threats. It all starts in the brain, where we perceive the stress. The brain then sends signals to our body to prepare for action. This involves releasing hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline, which speed up our heart rate, make us breathe faster, and sharpen our senses. It's as if our body is getting ready for a quick response, like running from danger or facing a tough problem.

Coping with Stress

During the stress response, our body focuses on dealing with the stressor. It shunts resources away from things like digestion and immune function and redirects them to what's most important in that moment. This helps us stay alert and ready.

But once the stressor is gone or the challenge is over, our body needs to recover. That's when the relaxation response kicks in. It helps us return to our normal state. Hormones like cortisol play a role here, helping to calm us down and bring our heart rate and breathing back to normal. It's like our body saying, "Okay, the danger is gone, time to relax."

The Importance of Managing Stress

While the stress response is crucial for handling short-term stressors, it can become a problem if it happens too often or for too long.

Chronic stress, caused by ongoing issues, like constant worry, can harm our physical and mental health. It can lead to conditions like anxiety, depression, and even heart problems. That's why it's essential to learn how to manage stress. Techniques like deep breathing, exercise, and relaxation can help break the cycle and keep our body and mind healthy. Remember, stress is a natural response, but knowing how to handle it can make a big difference in our well-being.


Aim for Greatness Coaching

Betty McLean, BSN RN

RN since 2004 and Certified Life Coach

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