The Dangers of Stress

Updated: Apr 12

Is A Lion Chasing You?

Did you know that when a bill is past due or a car cuts in front of you on the interstate your body flips on the same biological responses as if a lion was chasing you? Our reactions to stress kept us alive when we had to escape predators on the savannah, but now this chronic triggering takes its toll on the human body.



While thirty lions might not chase you every day, you might have thirty worries that send the stress-response system into overdrive. That’s one of the best and worst things about being human. We can anticipate catastrophe before it even occurs. Thinking ahead keeps us alive, but it also keeps us up at night with worries tipping over like dominoes in our anxious heads.

In the popular book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, biological researcher Robert Sapolsky details the physical impact of stress on the human body. He explains that it is our response to stress that is more damaging to our health than the actual crises in our lives. “If you experience every day as an emergency,” Sapolsky warns, “you will pay the price.”


How Stress Impacts


When our brains are in emergency mode, our senses sharpen and our perception of pain decreases. These responses are desirable when you don’t want to be eaten by an alligator but the tradeoff is costly when worry is constant. In times of stress our bodies struggle to store energy. Heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate skyrocket and digestion becomes difficult. Growth and reproduction can be stunted and we are less immune to infections. So you can imagine the number of long-term medical consequences that arise from these complications.


Stop Living In Emergency Mode

Living in emergency mode is almost a given in modern times, with 24-hour news networks and the Internet alerting us every day to the price of being human. But we can earn some flexibility in our response to stress if we do a better job observing our own reactivity to daily worries.

Focus On Facts To Alleviate Stress

Focusing on the facts of any situation is a great strategy for slowing down the stress-response. So much of the time our brains live in guilt for past mistakes or in fear of uncontrollable events in the future. Being in the present means accepting what you cannot change and working on what you can.

Take Care Of Yourself- Unapologetically


Above all, a less anxious individual usually does not apologize for taking care of herself. Finding an outlet for our worries is just as important as conquering the tasks themselves. When your body is swimming in stress, anything that can help you poke your head above the water and gain a little perspective is worth pursuing. Maybe then you can remind yourself and your body that the lurking predators ready to pounce are not worth your time or your energy.

5 Quick Tips to Alleviate Stress

So here are five quick tips on alleviating stress:


First: STOP!

Second: Take a Deep Breath.

Third: Slowly Let It Out.

Fourth: Are You Ok? Ok.

NOW….

  1. Determine what Stresses You.

  2. Replace Negative Views with Positive Ones.

  3. Remove or Readjust People, Places, and Things.

  4. Pick up Beneficial Habits. Discard Detrimental Ones.

  5. Eat Healthy and Rest Often.

Overall, take time to understand your body, your mind, your spirit, and you so that it helps you deal with the dangers associated to stress.

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© 2021 by Dr. Sarah Renee Langley

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