Anatomy of Stress

maftab92 By maftab92, 2nd Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Work Issues & Stress

Stress is a normal physiological response to a dangerous situation or event. The body goes through a number of changes, which is a Nature’s way to help us out. Prolonged stress can cause serious health conditions.

Simple Steps to Manage Stress

To understand the anatomy of stress, you go back to cave man’s life and imagine a cave man sitting beside the fire in a cave, enjoying his meal and all of a sudden he notices something. He turns his head and sees a large ferocious looking saber-toothed tiger. Immediately his body goes through a series of drastic changes. The essential “fight or flight” response, which is a Nature’s way to protect from danger. This innate and automatic response is characterized by the following changes in the body.

1. As soon as the brain registers the presence of a tiger, it releases adrenaline into the body brining about several changes in the body.
2. The pupils of the eyes dilate to allow more light in and sharpen the vision because in stressful situations, one needs to see as much as possible.
3. The mouth goes dry to avoid adding fluid to the stomach.
4. As a result digestion stops temporarily, allowing more blood to be directed to the muscles and the brain. This explains why you feel “butterflies” in your stomach in a stressful situation.
5. The muscles around neck and shoulders tense up in order to get into action. These muscles are more resilient to blows than relaxed muscles.
6. Breathing quickens to allow an increased flow of oxygen to the muscles.
7. The heart beats faster and blood pressure rises in order to provide more fuel and oxygen to the various parts of the body.
8. The liver releases more glucose to provide a quick burst of energy for the muscles.
9. Perspiration increases in order to cool the body down because the more energy your body burns, the more you perspire.
10. The spleen releases its stored up blood cells and chemicals into the blood stream to thicken the blood. This process allows the blood to clot more rapidly than usual. It happens to stop bleeding quickly if an injury occurs.

These automatic reflex responses are still with us today. Everyday situations can trigger the hypothalamus in the brain to bring about all the physiological changes. And same responses are triggered by a frustrating traffic jam, or an angry boss as our ancestors experienced in the bush when encountering a wild animal.

The stress response is our body’s preparation to either “fight or fight” from danger. In modern life we pay a price for the mismanagement of this response. Unlike the cave man that either fought or ran, we are often trapped within our stressful situations without a direct means of addressing it. We can’t run away from a terrible traffic jam, we are stuck feeling frustrated and stressed out. Therefore, we do not release the physical tension caused by physiological changes. When we fail to release this stored up tension, we become a victim of stress related diseases. Prolonged stress causes psychosomatic illness. So it is important to learn to manage stress on daily basis.


Body, Health Issues, Physiological Response, Stress, Stress Management

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author avatar maftab92
I am a clinical psychologist from Pakistan. I am running my own clinic to help people overcome psychological problems.

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author avatar Rohit19
2nd Jul 2010 (#)

Wonderful article! We often witness these symptoms but don't quite understand them.

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author avatar maftab92
2nd Jul 2010 (#)

Thanks for your feedback.

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author avatar webtrafficker
25th Aug 2010 (#)

Great Article! I try to be as "aware" as possible to be in the flow in any situation... Stress results when we don't face up to realities; creating alternate realities instead :)

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