Understanding Stress

Stress is more than just a feeling or a state of being overwhelmed. It’s a physiological reaction that can have a significant impact on our health and well-being.

Consider for a moment the idea of mechanical stress: this refers to forces that act on a material, causing deformation or strain. It occurs when an external load or force is applied to an object, leading to changes in its shape or size. At a molecular level, it’s like a microscopic tug-of-war between particles and how they react to this stress affects how the material behaves overall.

At its most basic human level, stress is the body’s response to a challenge or demand. It’s a survival mechanism that dates back to our earliest ancestors. Picture a caveman confronted with a predatory animal; the body would respond by triggering a ‘fight or flight’ response. This involves a series of biochemical changes, such as the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare the body to either face the danger or run for safety.

In our modern lives, the ‘predators’ have evolved into various forms – an upcoming exam, a challenging project at work, or a difficult conversation we need to have. The body doesn’t differentiate between a physical threat and a psychological one. As a result, the same ‘fight or flight’ reaction gets triggered.

Cortisol, a key stress hormone, serves a good purpose. It helps to maintain fluid balance and blood pressure, while regulating some body functions that are not crucial at the moment, like immunity, digestion and growth.

But problems begin when stressors are always present and the ‘fight or flight’ reaction stays turned on. The long-term activation of the stress-response system and overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all of your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Memory and concentration impairment

At Bedrock Psychology Group, we believe that understanding the nature of stress is the first step towards managing it effectively. It’s essential to implement stress management strategies, including regular physical activity, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga, and maintaining a healthy diet.

Remember, it’s not about eliminating all stress, but learning how to manage it so that it doesn’t manage you. If you find yourself overwhelmed by stress, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. At Bedrock Psychology Group, we are here to provide support and help you navigate these challenges, ensuring you lead a healthier, more balanced life.