Phases of the stress
There are three basic phases of the stress. Understanding these phases can help to identify and cope with the stress in life.
Stressors trigger your body's response to stress. This physiological response is also known as the "fight or flight" response in your nervous system. Symptoms include:
- Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
- Decreased blood flow to the extremities
- Slowed digestion
The stress response is meant temporarily to improve chances of surviving a physical threat to safety (i.e., outrunning a predator), but becomes dangerous to health if activated for prolonged periods of time.
Troublesome events that can activate the stress experience include death, divorce, illness, conflict, job loss, and retirement. Other negative stressors are worries, memories, or images that are produced internally by our minds. Positive life events also trigger the stress response in our bodies. These include marriage, birth of a child, purchase of a new home, or starting a new job.
Interpretation of stressors affects our ability to cope with stress. Our beliefs, attitudes, and values determine how we interpret and react to potentially stressful situations. The resulting feeling of helplessness sets up for a variety of unpleasant responses to stress.
Reaction to stress might create or worsen physical, emotional, or behavioral symptoms if the fight or flight response is activated chronically over time.
- Physical — high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, strokes, rashes, migraine, tension headaches, infertility, irritable bowel
- Emotional — anxiety, depression, anger, forgetfulness, panic attacks
- Behavioral — overeating, poor appetite, drug abuse, excessive smoking, irritability, social withdrawal, insomnia .