Stress! Almost everyone feels stressed from time to time and to a large extent, this is actually natural. The trouble is, it can cause a long list of emotional and physical symptoms if it gets out of hand and becomes the norm.
Have you ever wondered why some people never seem to get stressed while others are plagued by it?
In this post, I’m going to talk about what causes stress and why some people are less resilient to stress than others.
What is Stress?
Stress is linked to the “fight or flight” response.
When a “threat” is acknowledged, it sets off a series of actions within the body, including the release of stress hormones into the bloodstream. This encourages fats and sugars that can be used for energy, which helped our ancestors to flee from any threats that they encountered.
In those days, these were threats to their very existence and the “fight or flight” response helped them to escape from them.
Our modern day “threats” are a lot more mundane than this, and the “fight or flight” response is more of a hindrance than a necessity. The same set of responses that gave our ancestors the energy, speed and physical strength to sometimes literally run for their lives can have a very detrimental effect on our health and well-being – not surprising given that our lives are now very different!
If “threats” are being responded to on a regular basis, the frequent release of stress hormones can lead to a range of physical symptoms. In the longer term, it can be linked to health problems such as depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, IBS, fertility issues, ulcers and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Why Are Some People More Affected Than Others?
The “fight or flight” response is built into all of us as a response to stressful threats but there can be a lot of difference in terms of what is perceived as a threat from person to person.
This response is triggered on the basis of any perceived threat and it doesn’t matter whether the threat is actually real. As long as the threat feels out of proportion to your ability to cope with it, it will cause stress and the symptoms that go hand in hand with it.
This is why some people are very affected by chronic stress while others never get stressed about anything. It’s all related to whether a particular stress trigger feels out of our control.
Modern life can be full of scenarios that our brain perceives as a threat, and the “fight or flight” response can be activated on a very regular basis. This is true for most of us but what differs is often your response to the initial trigger.
If you’re prone to thinking the worse in any given situation, you’ll be more affected by stress than someone who has a positive outlook on life and sees things as opportunities or challenges rather than threats, for example. It’s likely that you’ll also experience a more severe physiological response to stress triggers in comparison too and this in itself can exaggerate your stress levels.
You may not be able to change your temperament but you can focus on understanding how your mind works and try to develop skills that will enable you to work around them. Building resilience to help you manage your stress levels is another option too.