CHAPTER 2: THE STRESS RESPONSE
Stress is a normal response to a threat. On a short-term basis the stress response is designed to be a protective mechanism for survival against short term threats. Prolonged or chronic stress, however, can lead to acute illness and chronic disease.
Stress affects people on many levels: physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and relational to name a few. From a systems perspective, a change in any part of the system, or person, affects the whole person. A change on a physical or hormonal level also affects the person, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.
The Physical Response
When faced with a situation that feels out of control, the body prepares to meet the challenge. Each person has a preferred way of responding to a stressful situation. The basic human responses are fight, flight
. These responses are often called primitive because they are triggered automatically in the oldest part of the brain.
The body is preparing to fight the challenge, flee from it, or freeze in place. Breathing speeds up and becomes shallow, blood pressure rises along with adrenaline and cortisol, the heart beats faster and other changes occur that put the body on "red alert
Purpose of the Stress Response
Our body is not designed to be on "red alert
" continuously. The stress response is designed for short term bursts to prepare to face and survive a physical threat.