What is Stress?
Almost everyone experiences stress at some point. With so many stressors in our modern lives, it is little surprise that one of the top complaints to health care professionals is problems managing stress. But what many people don't understand is what exactly is stress, how it has an effect on nearly every part of their body, and that it doesn't always have to be a bad thing.
Historically, the answer to "what is stress?" was simply that it is a survival mechanism. Stress is a response to an event that can be caused by an internal or external factor. In animals and ancient humans, this was called a "fight or flight" response in which your body and mind quickly evaluate a situation and decide to either face the stressor or run away. Since modern causes of stress are not likely to kill us or cause direct physical harm, the body often chooses to fight, causing mental stress in many cases.
Today, there are many things that can affect how you respond to stress, including:
- Physical fitness
- Sleep habits
- Emotional state
Regardless of what causes your stress or how much it plays a role in your everyday life, it is important to be able to identify signs of stress and what your individual stressors are and work to learn how to manage it in order to live the healthiest, happiest life possible.