Understanding Stress. What is Stress?
According to the dictionary, there are a number of different definitions but when it comes to physiology stress is defined as a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.
Stress and Fight or Flight
What does that mean in plain English? Basically, it means dealing with the “fight or flight” mechanism that’s hardwired into our brains and suppressing this leads to stress. All this harks back to cave people because this sort of thing developed way back in human evolution.
If you were around four or five thousand years ago and you happened to stumble across a woolly mammoth or a sabre tooth tiger or whatever it is that this guy is attacking in the picture above then you’re going to want to do one of two things.
You’re either going to want to fight it and kill it and eat it or you’re going to run like blazes to get away from it before it catches and kills and probably eats you. This is how this sort of thing developed in human beings.
Work and Stress
Of course nowadays, you’re not likely to come across a woolly mammoth or a sabre tooth tiger that’s going to try and kill and eat you but there are other situations today that will trigger this response. For example, you might have a demanding boss or you might have to deal with an angry customer and you suppress that “fight or flight” response because you need to talk to this person or calm them down and that, of course, can lead to stress.
Perhaps you might have to travel in heavy traffic and of course that can be very stressful because you never know when someone else in another lane is going to do something stupid.
So you have to sort of being on your guard the whole time and that can be stressful. Perhaps you’ve got sulky recalcitrant teenager at home and they’re making your life very difficult and of course, that can be very stressful.
Perhaps you’ve got financial problems or a big tax audit coming out and you can’t fight that, you can’t run away from it either, you just had to deal with it and that can be very, very stressful.
Of course, when we suppress all this in modern life then that’s when the stress levels build up. Modern life can be very stressful and it does take its toll on our cave man or cavewoman brains. So you do have to learn how to deal with that and how to deal with stress in modern life.