What is Stress?

Stress is a reaction to pressure or a threat. Furthermore, emotional stress is also called the “fight-or-flight” response. Hence, this is an automatic response to a perceived danger. Therefore, stress triggers a surge of the hormone adrenaline. Consequently, this activates and heightens the nervous system. Even routine stress activates this physical response, to help a person perform under pressure. Occasional stress can serve as a healthy coping mechanism. However, other forms of stress can be unhealthy.

Beyond routine stress, researchers identify two other types of stress.

  1. Chronic stress can be triggered by a negative life event. This can be losing a job or failing out of school.
  2. Traumatic stress is the result of experiencing a traumatic event. This can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Chronic stress and traumatic stress can both contribute to long-term health consequences. Such health effects include digestive problems, headaches or migraines, and sleep disorders. Hence, chronic stress and traumatic stress often require professional help.
Psychotherapy and guided breathing exercises are just two treatment options for emotional stress. In addition, relaxation techniques can also be used to combat a distorted stress response. Examples of such techniques include restorative yoga, meditation, and forms of self-hypnosis.

Sources: Medline Plus, KidsHealth, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health