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What is Stress?
Understanding stress and anger management is an important skill to master. What is the body, the brain responding to when stress occurs? Is it real? Is it imagined? You can learn to understand and respond in a positive way to stress that occurs in your daily life.
Here is an important word: HOMEOSTASIS, defined as the body – or any organism – working to constantly achieve a balance within itself – adapting to changes which occur – temperature and chemical changes within the body.
So STRESS can be defined as the mind and body responding to outside, internal or even imagined stimulation and eventually losing it’s balance – or falling out of healthy homeostasis. This is likened to global warming, which we can all see our earth responding to in often frightening ways.
To keep a body alive, there are automatic mechanisms to help maintain these internal responses at a desirable level. But SELF-REGULATION is a necessary tool in order to maintain these desirable levels.
As we’ve evolved, the human stress response has saved our lives. Today, we turn on the same life-saving physical reaction to cope with intense, ongoing stressors – and we can’t seem to turn it off. Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University, reveals just how dangerous prolonged exposure to stress can be in the documentary, “Stress: Portrait of a Killer.” In the 2008 National Geographic documentary “Stress – Portrait of a Killer”, Sapolsky and fellow scientists explain the deadly consequences of prolonged stress. The one-hour documentary was first aired on National Geographic channel, and is now available on Netflix (and also other Google Searches). I recommend this film highly, and use Robert Sapolsky’s teachings and concepts with my clients and in seminars.
Here is a quote from Dr. Gabor Mate’, from his recent book, The Myth of Normal:
The Machinery of Stress Understanding stress and its mechanics can give us a finer appreciation for how the bodymind unity plays itself out in real time and real tissue. Like its cousin, the pain response, stress is a mandatory survival function for any living being. When activated, our stress apparatus immediately empowers us to confront or escape threats to our existence or to the existence or well-being of those we care for. It’s an impressive whole-body event involving virtually every organ and system. Stress can show up in two forms: as an immediate reaction to a threat or as a prolonged state induced by external pressures or internal emotional factors. While acute stress is a necessary reaction that helps maintain our physical and mental integrity, chronic stress, ongoing and unrelieved, undermines both. Situational anger, for example, is an instance of acute stress being marshaled for a positive purpose—think self-defense or setting interpersonal boundaries. It makes us more alert of mind, quicker, and stronger of limb. Chronic rage, by contrast, floods the system with stress hormones long past the allotted time. Over the long term, such a hormonal surplus, whatever may have instigated it, can make us anxious or depressed; suppress immunity; promote inflammation; narrow blood vessels, promoting vascular disease throughout the body; encourage cancer growth; thin the bones; make us resistant to our own insulin, inducing diabetes; contribute
Maté, Gabor. The Myth of Normal (pp. 46-47). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.