What is Stress and How Does it Impact Us
Updated: Aug 8
Stress is a normal part of everyday life and can be triggered for many different reasons. Stress is not avoidable, so learning how to manage it and prevent it from interfering in our lives is a major key to success, productivity, and happiness.
Understanding stress is an important first step in mastering it, so read on to become an expert in stress and how it impacts us.
Evolutionary Purpose of Stress
The stress response in the body is an evolutionary response to danger. This is a way to protect us in a truly dangerous situation. This is also known as the fight-or-flight response.
When the stress response gets activated in relation to a threat or danger, the body quickly responds in an automatic way without much thought on our part.
Let’s say that someone is coming towards you in a threatening or dangerous way. You basically have two options:
Option A: Run away as fast as you can
Option B: Stay and fight for your life
Now, in either situation, the body automatically responds to help you either fight or flight (run away).
It will increase your heart rate and blood pressure, send blood flow your major muscle groups (glutes, legs, arms) so you can stay and fight or run away to save your life, and will cause your breathing to become shallow and rapid to increase blood flow to your major muscle groups.
In a moment of true danger, this is great and protective. However, in modern day life, this response gets activated not only in dangerous situations, but in everyday life situations as well. Not so helpful or protective.
The Stress Response in Modern Life
Not only does the stress response get activated in dangerous situations, but it is activated in a variety of everyday situations. Once you label something as stressful, a “threat” because its stressful, or you fear something (even if its not dangerous), the body will respond as if it is a true danger or threat.
This might include a stressful work meeting, a presentation to a group of people, a fight with a loved one, children misbehaving, worries about a medical issue, and much more. Stressful, but not quite dangerous.
As you can imagine, muscle tension, your heart pumping, shallow breathing, and being on high alert are not exactly conducive to good attention and concentration, productivity, and feeling calm and relaxed.
Quite the opposite in fact. Trouble sleeping, headaches, irritability with others, digestive issues, and all the other unpleasant stress symptoms we experience are due to this stress response being activated when we don’t really need it. Or want it.
Moderate Stress is Good for Us
Some stress is actually good for us. If we had no stress at all, we wouldn’t really have much pushing us to succeed, accomplish our goals, or to keep improving in our lives.
Too high of stress can negatively interfere in the ways mentioned above, by mimicking medical conditions, distracting us, causing chronic pain, and zapping energy and focus.
A moderate amount of stress is the winning level to give us a kick in the butt to do what we need to do, get after our goals, and best the best versions of ourselves.
This is known as the Yerkes-Dodson-Law. This is a u-shaped graph that shows the relationship between stress and performance as mentioned above.
So, some stress is a good thing. It increases motivation, energy, and focus and helps us to reach our true potential. Therefore, a goal of stress management and stress reduction is not to completely eliminate stress, but rather to keep it at a moderate level so we are productive without the negative effects of too high stress.
Finding this sweet spot can be tricky, but don’t worry, I got you.
Master Stress and Make it Work for You
Understanding the relationship between stress and productivity is a major key in mastering stress and making it work for you.
Understand when stress becomes a problem, such as when it's zapping your attention and concentration, interfering with your sleep, causing irritability, or causing uncomfortable physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, and high muscle tension. When you notice these things, it means stress is too high and no longer working for you.
Learn a variety of tools to make stress work for you and take charge of your life. This allows you to master stress instead of the other way around!
*Ready to take charge of your life and learn to make stress work for you so you can accomplish all of your goals? *
Book a discovery call, and let's chat about how I can be your guide to mastering stress and unlocking your true potential.
----About Dr. Julia
Hi! I'm Dr. Julia. Health psychologist, stress and sleep expert, and creator of the Master Stress Method.
I have worked with thousands of individuals in major hospitals, university medical centers, and primary care settings to improve their stress levels, sleep, and overall emotional and physical well being.
My current focus is helping busy professionals prevent and manage the high stress that is getting in the way of their productivity, mood, sleep, and their ability to reach their full potential.
My 8-week, 1:1 coaching program has helped hundreds of stressed out, overwhelmed, and burned out clients significantly reduce their stress and anxiety, improve their sleep, and maximize their productivity, in just 8 short weeks.
I can't wait to help you stop the struggle with stress, for good. Let's chat :)