There are also psycho-emotional consequences (psychological-emotional).
"Freezing" or "getting rattled" are just different descriptions of an extreme anxiety state that
is the psychological equivalent to physiological shock.
As we grow older, the stress reaction releases cholesterol into the bloodstream and when
not used up through physical action, it is deposited on the artery walls.
The passages become narrower and the heart has to work harder to push blood along.
Chronic high-stress can turn transient (temporary) high blood pressure (hypertension) into
permanent high blood pressure.
People whose stress manifests this way are likely candidates for heart disease.
As blood pressure rises and muscle tension increases, resting heart rate and serum
cholesterol may rise, all increasing the Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) risk factor.
Quite often, these people ignore their poor health habits, making them even less efficient,
which in turn, produces even more tension to aggravate the situation.
It is a killer, because th effects of the "stressors" is cumulative, each one stays with us for
approx 365 days - thus the levels in creases continually.
NOTE: it is seldom any "large" thing that pushes us over the "edge" so to speak. Rather, it
is the cumulative, additive effect of each small stressor after another, and the balance
begins to tip until just one more small item makes it flop over.
See the graphic at the right for sources/causes of
stress & anxiety in day-to-day life (stressors).
One cause of Stress is "inner pain", and people:
- learn to avoid feeling excitement by holding
their breath or squeezing muscles.
- Tightening against intense pleasure pain;
- emotions: fear, joy, anger, grief, orgasm,
Chronic excessive muscular tension due to
attitudes and holding on to inner pain is a system
of habitual muscular contractions that keep a
person's spontaneous impulses in.
- A holding against feeling, emotion,
- Repression, depression.
- Depressing yourself.
- It absorbs energy: hinders spontaneous
body function: sensation, sensitivity,
creativity, productivity, communication and
Sources/Causes of Stress / Anxiety
There are many: financial problems, family
problems, health issues, certain holidays,
codependence and denial - and many more
The major ones are FEAR and our attitude. See
Attitude and the workshop page, also.
How Does one manage or cope with stress?
There are as many ways to cope with stress, or to
manage or reduce it, as there are people.
Each person finds their own coping mechanisms
and strategies. Some work well - others not so well.
Anxiety & phobias usually require professional help.
Relaxation for Body & Mind - Stress Buster
I offer a form of Deep Relaxation & Autogenic
Training that effectively goes "below your mind"
- so deep that it leaves you renewed, refreshed and
re-empowered (see Retreats).
Klaas Tuinman MA
Dawn Cove Abbey
Deerfield, (Yarmouth Cty) Nova Scotia, Canada 2910-17
Stress: the Silent Killer
STRESS: when it strikes we need to act and do something decisive, just as primitive humans
did in ages past. Stress is the plague of the 20th century because we don't always take
prompt, immediate action. We have been "civilized" to release our aggression, etc, indirectly
through the use of body language, or verbally.
These help somewhat, but are inadequate because the body's primary preparation and need
is for physical outlets.
- Stress is often considered to be something that happens to people: an event such as an
injury or a promotion.
- Others think that stress is what happens to our bodies, minds and behaviours in
response to an event (e.g, heart pounding, anxiety, or nail biting).
- The official Health and Safety definition of stress is: ’Stress is the adverse reaction
people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed upon them. It
arises when they worry they can’t cope’.
- "Stress" is not just one thing, or a single event, that happens to us. Everything we
experience "stays with us", and their after-effects stay around for at least a year.
Stress is OVERLOAD.
- To take the Stress Test click HERE.
For additional information see: the Canadian Mental Health Association website: ENGLISH,
Anxiety disorders are stress responses that are both excessive and inappropriate. Anxiety
disorders interfere with your ability to function normally on a daily basis. They include such
things a panic attacks and phobias, etc See Anxiety-Phobias.
While stress does involve events and our response to them, these are not the most
It is Our thoughts about the situations in which we find ourselves, are the critical and often
are the main source of stress (but not always). Sources of stress are called "stressors".
Stress is NOT a disorder - it is overload that causes disorders.
The innate alarm response initially attempts to over-ride our "civilized manners". There is often
no time to think of "civilized" reactions because the alarm response is a reflex that operates
almost instantaneously. The body undergoes a number of changes as these responses to
stimuli occur. They begin the moment danger messages are received by the brain:
- Regulating centres of the total nervous system give the body information to speed up in
preparation to confront or escape the threat.
- Since chemical balances affect the mind's emotional moods, the brain responds quickly
and appropriately to maintain the balance.
- The brain will attempt to compensate for deficits in the rest of the system by secreting its
own chemicals in response to the `directions' it receives from the glands.
Physiological Responses: there are a number that occur either simultaneously or in a
sequence (you can learn more about this in the Stress & Stress Management workshop.)
See the following diagram for examples of the physiological effects:
STRESS: if we ask a 100 people what stresses them, each person will give a
different answer: each one will need a different solution.
- Stress is not a personal weakness you have: most people will suffer from
excessive stress at some time in their lives.
- It is a serious condition - with potentially serious consequences.
- It is also a very individual experience: everybody is affected by it
differently - see also Anxiety and Depression and please check the
Retreats-Workshop page for mangement.
|Dawn Cove Abbey
Roadside Assistance For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman MA, © 2007-2017
Questions and comments welcomed.
|Introduction to Stress: Signs, Symptoms, Sources, Causes and Management
Managing Stress is about determining (analyzing) your source, or sources of stress, and then
choosing, or selecting a strategy that will reduce the effects of stress, or remove the source.
But first, you need to know what "stress" is, what it does, specifically, and why it is a "killer".
Stress: is a word borrowed from engineering that refers a measurement of the sum total of
forces that will make an object reach its "breaking point" - so that it can be designed better, or
a limiting use is designated.
But we are human and can not be re-engineered or redesigned (readily): but the sum total of
things we have going on in our lives, can easily make us reach our "breaking points".
Stress begins as a Fight, Flight, or Flee reaction to danger (whether real of imagined); it involves
THE PHYSIOLOGICAL DIMENSION
Today's subtle pressures are registered by the same physical reaction as that of our ancestors who
faced sabre-tooth tigers, grass-fires, or other dangerous situations. This physiological reaction
has been an important key to man's survival throughout history. There are many ways of
responding, yet in whatever manner we have learned to express our stress, our bodies still react
in the same way. We refer to this response as the "fight or flight" or alarm phenomenon, or
simply call it arousal when it strikes. We have as much a need to act and do something decisive
as our more primitive ancestors did.
The reason stress has become the plague of the twentieth century is that instead of taking
prompt action, we have been "civilized" to show our aggression indirectly through the use of
body language, or verbally. While these help somewhat, they are quite inadequate responses
since the body's primary preparation and need is for physical outlets. When this need is
frustrated because we ignore it or respond inappropriately, the whole mechanism is thwarted and
leads to disorder.
The influence of the innate alarm response on our reaction to problems, demands and dangers,
initially attempts to over-ride our "civilized manners". There is often no time to think of "civilized"
reactions because the alarm response is a reflex that operates almost instantaneously, just as the
blinking of eyelids when something approaches them, for example.
Our bodies undergo a number of changes as these responses to stimuli occur. This process
begins the moment danger messages are received by the brain. The regulating centres of the total
nervous system give the body information to speed up in preparation to confront or escape the
threat. Since chemical balances affect the mind's moods, the brain responds quickly and
appropriately to maintain the balance. If necessary, it will attempt to compensate for deficits in
the rest of the system by secreting its own chemicals in response to the 'directions' it receives
from the glands. In response, the mouth dries and hearing becomes extremely acute. If the
reaction is particularly intense, posture will change completely and the person will become alert, or
even rigid. The eyeballs move back a little into their sockets to improve the range of vision and
the pupils dilate, giving the familiar wide-eyed appearance of fright.
Since the bloodstream must deliver huge quantities of oxygen to the muscles,
- the nostrils flare to allow increased amounts of it to flow into the lungs.
- Drops of sweat appear, the skin will change colour and the hair might stand on end due to
the extreme stimulation of hormones from the sympathetic nervous system acting on the
hair follicles in the skin.
- Muscles tense to deal with the challenge and blood pulsates through the head to provide
more oxygen for the brain cells to help stimulate the thought processes.
- The respiratory rate increases, blood drains from the extremities and is pooled in the trunk
and head, leaving the hands and feet cold and sweaty.
Adrenaline and noradrenaline will be "dumped" into the bloodstream. These hormones are
produced by the adrenal glands and each has a different effect on the heart rate, dilation and
contraction of blood vessels and blood pressure. They prepare the body for fight or flight, to
facilitate whatever action is chosen.
- The output of blood from the heart increases, boosting the pulse rate and blood pressure,
and since both running and fighting take energy,
- an emergency supply of sugar is mobilized quickly and supplied in a form that the muscles
can use directly.
- The body considers digestion as an expendable process at this time, since it requires vast
amounts of blood and energy, and redirects these resources to where they are most needed
instead. This of course, leads to incomplete digestion, and explains why people suffering
from high-stress often have gastro-intestinal problems.
Cortisone and hydrocortisone (also called cortisol) are also "dumped" into the bloodstream.
Cortisol helps the body cope with stress, and is thus a `friendly' substance in any stressful
encounter, whereas adrenaline can be a 'foe'.
However, overproduction of cortisone can have a weakening effect on the body's immune
system - so that the ability to fight off the invading organisms which cause infection is reduced.
Almost certainly, the continual stimulation of the adrenal glands that forces them to supply a
constant flow of cortisone, may account for the high vulnerability to minor infections or illnesses
during prolonged stress.
After reacting to the alarm, the body attempts to adapt to the new situation by resisting its
initial response, in an effort to return to a balanced state. However, we have a limited amount
of adaptive energy and the body must be given relief from the biochemical changes or a chronic
high stress state results.
Unless the source is removed, or we find other, more effective ways to adapt, the regulatory
centres of the brain will tend to over-react. This would eventually progress to exhaustion,
potential breakdown and ultimately death. It is the way the body responds and signals that a
dangerous level is reached, that is vital.
Stress is very complex, but it is our reaction to stressful events, and not the events themselves
which is important! What counts is our ability to adapt to the circumstances we find ourselves
in, and it is at this point that the opportunity for putting our social learning (civilized manners)
into effect arises.
As we grow older, the stress reaction releases cholesterol into the bloodstream, and when not
used up through physical action, it is deposited on the artery walls. The passages become
narrower and the heart has to work harder to push blood along. Chronic high-stress can turn
transient (temporary) high blood pressure (hypertension) into permanent high blood pressure.
People who experience a lot of stress in this way are likely candidates for heart disease.
Millions of North Americans have hypertension and most of them are unaware of the seriousness
of their condition. For example, as blood pressure rises and muscle tension increases, resting
heart rate and serum cholesterol may rise, all increasing the Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) risk
factor. Quite often, these people ignore their poor health habits, making them even less
efficient, which in turn, produces even more tension to aggravate the situation.
Any kind of arousal creates stress, one's first kiss, or falling in love produce stress just as the
death of a loved one does. Arousal here refers to anything that will result in changes we must
adjust to. Stress is the consequence of that arousal, or from the pressures of avoiding it. It is a
state of being that is readily evident to those who have developed their self awareness. Without it
we would have nothing to stimulate us into action, or change the course of our lives when things
The dilemma for each of us is to establish the appropriate level for efficient functioning. A certain
amount of stress is necessary simply to get out of bed in the morning. In just the right amounts it
makes us feel energetic, and motivates us to be competent and pleased to be involved in life.
Stress operates on a curve called the Human Function Curve. This means that performance alters
depending on the amount of stress or arousal we experience. Up to a certain point, performance
improves as arousal increases, but beyond that, fatigue or excess anxiety creep in. Some people
perform better under the pressure of a deadline. However, when the critical point on the curve is
reached, the first stage of negative conditions is encountered, for any further arousal will lead to a
marked deterioration in performance. It will suffer and decline in direct proportion to the amount
of additional stress, followed by exhaustion, illness and possible breakdown if arousal is not
decreased. The point at which the rising curve starts to tip downward is not predictable, for it
depends entirely on individual factors, but is reached progressively earlier with increasing age.
There is no handy universal standard for reference. Instead, we each have threshold levels which
can easily be determined. The thresholds are the points at which events begin to affect us and
vary with time, the individual, the condition of the person, and the environment. Because of the
tremendous range of individual differences, the potential for being disrupted by stress is enormous.
All of us have problems that are stressful, and most of the time we learn to live with them. The
ability to function effectively only becomes impaired when stress levels change greatly in degree,
intensity, or frequency.
The delicate balance between stress and coping is destroyed when one more problem is piled on
top of all the others (the straw that broke the camel's back). The tensions become too great and
lead to breakdown; perhaps because of an infection, an emotional disorder, or because the physical
strength to struggle decreases. Under these conditions the body becomes incapable of producing
any more defence hormones to respond to any additional stress. This inability to cope brings total
chaos to the system and resistance to disease is so reduced that the likelihood of contracting a
physical illness is greatly increased.
Stress can be divided into three phases: shock, mobilization for controlling it, and breakdown.
This is called the General Adaptation Syndrome. The first phase, shock, is the most dramatic.
There are events we consider as "shocking", and others which we don't think of this way (we
saw the physiological effects above).
The body cannot make such distinctions, it simply responds to whatever incoming stimuli it
interprets as dangerous. A sudden, unexpected increase in work load when already rushed for
time represents a shock to the body, just as being robbed or assaulted would. Thus our ability to
function well decreases as shown in the following diagram.
- Producing deadness, numbing whole areas of the body; inhibiting breathing, movement, the flow of
- Attitude: Holding onto hurts brings fixation:
- Fixation is stunting growth.
- Creating in a person the experience of being blocked off, in a dream like state of half aliveness:
halts the process of actualizing the Human Potential.
- Stuck: separate from him/herself and the excessive tension, words, sensory limitation all lead to
automatic, conditioned behaviour.
- A lack of joy, honesty, humour, love: being bored to death; deliberate, phoney.
. . . and many, many others