What Exactly is Stress?
Physiological Changes During Stress
Our body is reacting as though our life is being threatened, so all unnecessary functions are turned down or even off so it can focus on the things that can help us live. When we have to decide to run from a bear or punch it in the face, we need all of our resources going to the parts of the body that will help us do that.Muscles to help us run or fight, energy to keep us going, heart beat and blood pressure up to get the blood to the muscles, our eyes dilate to give the best vision possible, dilation of bronchi in the lungs to allow more oxygen intake are all physiological changes that occur to increase the chances of the body surviving the threat.
While more energy is going to these areas, certain parts of the body are shut off or slowed down because they are unnecessary for this immediate danger. This includes the digestive and reproductive systems as well as the parts of the front of the brain that deals with short-term memory, concentration, inhibition, and rational thought.
The immune system is also affected. Certain cells are sent to areas that will help the most if the body is impaled by the bear’s claws or teeth.There are other changes, but these are the major ones. When we think of these physiological changes, they make sense for imminent danger. The thing is, stress these days is more likely to be long-term and chronic. Now these changes do not look so helpful. This is what leads to ill-health and disease down the road.
Effects of These Changes