What causes stress?


What Causes Stress?

What causes stress?  Well that’s different for everyone.

Some of us get stressed by work, deadlines, targets etc. Others get stressed by lack of work life balance.  Some of us get stressed by the people around us.  What causes stressed cannot be defined as a single thing.  It is all about how we deal with it.  And the best place to start is to understand what is going on when we get stressed.

Stress is essentially an evolutionary response.

We have a primal part of our brain – often called the lizard brain, or the chimp (if you have read the Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters (which I really recommend)) – and this part of the brain is responsible for our fight, flight or freeze response. So when we see something new it’s this part of the brain that responds first – assessing whether we need to run away from it, fight it, freeze and hope it goes away, or whether it is safe. The lizard brain releases various hormones which prepare us to respond and these hormones get our heart pumping faster, reduces digestion, sends blood to the muscles and gets our lungs working faster.

When we were dealing with immediate threats that was OK. This was fine when dealing with sabre tooth tigers. But these days are stressors tend to be longer term such as work stresses, family life etc. and we can’t run away or fight these anymore. But our lizard brain is still pumping out these hormones which we aren’t using as they were intended to be used. And this is what causes us problems.

Think about the last time when you were stressed. Did you find yourself feeling a bit cold and clammy? Did you find yourself breathing quickly and in the top of your chest? Did you find your tummy clenching up? All of this is due to the hormones being released and not being used up.

In small bursts this is OK. It can even be helpful. But it can cause some really long term issues if not managed effectively.

If you find yourself getting stressed take a look at my pages and see what you can do to help manage your stress levels.

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