Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Stress Response

Yesterday I learned that there are over 1400 physiological processes that occur in response to stress. That is quite an amazing fact I think. Those 1400 physiological processes effect nearly every aspect of our bodies: eyes, hands, lungs, urination, heart, brain, GI tract, cognition, etc.

We often allow ourselves to do things, to think things, and to fear various things and we truly have no idea how those "things" affect us. Not all stress is bad, this is eustress. Not all stress is good, this is distress.

Stress in truth is the bodies responsed to discomfort. Fortunately, our bodies compensate to most types of discomfort. However people who live in a chronic state of compenstated comfort (or people who are chronicly stressed) are living in a state of allostatis. Unfortunately, our society is trending toward allostasis as normal life due to our complicated and busy lifestyles. A recent book has been written that I wish I had time (and the understanding) to read; it's entitled "Allostasis, Homeostasis, and the Cost of Physiological Adaptation". Really that is just a fancy title to say how we are physically running down by living a life in a constant state of stress.

Chronic stress can cause serious physiological consequences of :
  • Mental dysfunction (Depression, Panic anxiety, Obsessive-compulsive behavior, Poor memory, Anorexia nervosa/ malnutrition)
  • Active alcoholism
  • Aggrevated PMS
  • Asthma
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Common cold/mononucleosis
  • Opportunistic infections (e.g., herpes - this is the shingles type)
  • Dermatological manifestations (or acne)
  • Burnout (Feeling overwhelmed, fatigue, Angry outbursts, Forgetfulness or disorganization, Guilt or self sacrifice, Disillusionment, Passivity, Distancing (that is pushing others away), Letting your self go, Substance abuse, Physical illness, etc.)
It's funny how those little things that keep us up at night, that we carry around in our hearts and minds throughout the day, that nag us as we drive to and fro, those little things that stare us in the face when we take the time to look - it's funny how those little things can have such a powerful effect on our bodies. All those little worries, all those little fears, all those little thoughts.

1 comment:

mtnman said...

I might use this post as an additional reason students should not obsess over negative possibilities when thinking about public speaking.