What is psychological stress?

What is stress? Most people think of stress as an external event, like traffic or too much work and too little time in which to do it. Stress isn't really stress unless you experience it as stress. Like a tree falling in the forest when no one is there, a stress event without a person taking it in - just isn't stress. Stress needs you, but you don't need stress.

What causes it?

Stress happens in the body when you react to an event as if it were a physical threat. Your brain decides what constitutes a stress 'emergency'. Your brain takes a split second to decide between the 'fight or flight' emergency reaction or some more low-key way to react to a situation. If your brain decides emergency your body shifts into death-prevention mode. Adrenaline pumps up your heart rate and blood pressure. Your pupils dilate. Digestion and other non-emergency processes shut down. Energy moves into the muscles. Now you can jump higher, run faster, punch harder. This is a good thing if your emergency happens to involve a physical sort of challenge. Like if you suddenly had to throw something out the window before it goes

What happens during stress?

Otherwise, you now have a physical stress management moment beginning. Your body, deprived of the opportunity to run, jump, punch, is now at risk for stress related discomfort - headaches, indigestion and elevated blood pressure are examples of what may happen. One such emergency reaction is not too big a problem. Imagine this emergency response activated over, and over and over.. in a place like an office. This kind of stress leads to physical and psychological symptoms. It makes you feel uncomfortable and blocks the ability to feel happy or pleasant or relaxed.

What to do during stress episodes?

Many brains signal emergency a bit too often. Maybe you're in a busy office where incoming phone calls may be angry customers. After a few calls from irate people, you find that the ringing of the phone triggers an emergency response. You feel more as if were about to strike. Luckily, your brain also has the ability to change this pattern.

Having fun is a natural antidote for stress