There are two types of stress and most of us have experienced one or both, at times. There are many causes and more risks involved than you may realize, but the good news is that not all stress is dangerous and there are ways to lessen your stress and enjoy better health.
Acute Stress: Momentary help in times of danger
Acute stress is the term for what occurs when your body senses danger and adapts to the threat by making physical changes, enabling you to avoid greater potential harm. This protective mechanism, crucial to your safety and designed to protect you, causes your body to secrete chemicals and stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, in response to your thoughts and prepares your body for “fight or flight.”
For example, let’s say you’re crossing a street to meet your friend at the local coffee shop and notice a car quickly approaching. You see the car and understand the risks, which causes you to feel fear and anxiety (learned behaviors that we only feel when we decide something is dangerous or anxiety provoking). Your body adapts to this stress by secreting chemicals and hormones, sending messages to your heart, lungs and organs to prepare them to handle the crisis.
- Your heart rate increases
- Blood flow is diverted to muscles allowing for quick movement
- Pupils dilate and more oxygen flows through your lungs for an extra burst of energy
These changes allow you to react quickly, enabling you to jump onto the curb to safety. Within a short period of time, your body calms down and things return to normal, allowing you to continue on to the meeting with your friend over your favorite cup of coffee. Read more