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Stress 101

What Is Stress?

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Stress is a feeling of emotional tension. It is the triggering of the human "fight or flight" response to danger. Originally it came into play to give us the energy, drive and stamina to either run or fight when presented with a dangerous situation.

The "fight or flight" response includes:

  • An increase in heart rate and blood pressure in order to get more blood to the muscles, brain, and heart.
  • Faster breathing to take in more oxygen.
  • Tensing of muscles in preparation of action.
  • Increased mental alertness to assess a situation and act quickly.
  • Increases in blood sugar, fats and cholesterol to produce quick energy.
  • A rise in platelets and blood clotting factors to prevent excessive bleeding in the event of injury.

Today, more often than not, the "fight or flight" response is triggered in scenarios where neither fighting nor fleeing would be appropriate. You can't run from your diagnosis or the stressors that result from it.

Stress releases energy in the body that we don't always know how to respond to or what to do with. This can become problematic when the stress producing triggers are not short term events. If you experience ongoing stress as a result of your diagnosis, your body will continue to respond with the "fight or flight" response.

While this may all seem to be a bit daunting, the good news is that you can do something about your reaction to stressful events.

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