In the 1930s Hans Selye coined the term stress, defining it as the body’s unspecific response when change is demanded from it. He believed that this pressure generates the necessary motivation to adjust behavior and in this way, it could be either good or bad. For instance, when we have a little bit of it we’re kept on our toes, we’re encouraged to get out of bed in the morning, we’re made wary of potential danger and we’re reminded of our daily responsibilities.
Each of us has our unique reactions to anxiety. While some of us can adapt and healthily cope with them, some of us become severely overwhelmed by a small amount of it. This has a lot to do with both environmental and genetic factors.
What happens when our everyday lives are interfered with in such a way that we can no longer perform daily tasks without worrying, without doubting our ability to make decisions, or our relationships are interfered with? Many things can make us feel this way: family, finances, relationships, health, politics, and daily living. Low levels of anxiety can be healthy and even motivating here.
Understanding the Stress Response
When we’re in stressful situation hormones are released that bring about physiological changes. For instance, our heart may pound, our breathing may quicken, our muscles may grow tense, or we may begin to sweat.
These physiological reactions are what is known as the “fight-or-flight” response. This is because they’re a means of survival that enables us to quickly react to a life-threatening situation. It starts with the amygdala sending a message to the hypothalamus. This is your brain’s control center which is responsible for using your autonomic nervous system to communicate with the rest of your body. Another branch of your autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight-or-flight response.
Your hypothalamus will send signals throughout your body so that cortisone and epinephrine can be released. This is what results in your immediate physiological reactions to anxiety.
Oftentimes all these things will happen before you have a chance to even process what’s going on. This is why you’re able to jump out of the path of an oncoming vehicle without even thinking about it.
Stress vs Anxiety
When it comes to survival, stress is a typical defense mechanism to real, present demands. It has to do with something that’s happening at the moment.
On the other hand, anxiety is the anticipation of an upcoming threat – something that might happen in the future. Here clinicians focus on the emotional distress that surrounds a potentially negative stimulus instead of an immediate reaction to this stimulus. This is because a person feels fear or nervous about some unforeseeable event. Oftentimes it’s also accompanied by disruptive physical symptoms like muscle tension, loss of appetite, headaches, problems sleeping, chest pain, body aches, and diarrhea.
These both become unhealthy when they act as a roadblock to our everyday life when they prevent us from doing what we need or want to do each day.
While some people seem to go through life without feeling much stress, others find themselves suffering from chronic anxiety. Research shows that this is due to genetics but not all of these feelings are inherited. The environment also plays a major role in them. This is especially true of environmental factors like past trauma, poverty, childhood adversity, unhealthy relationships, and bullying. If you need help dealing with any of these issues or the stress they bring about contact TMS Advantage in St Petersburg & Clearwater, FL.
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