Manage Your Stress

Chapter 2: What Is Stress?

Stress is a challenge to your body or mind that elicits a physical response, a readiness to react.

  • Text
  • Print
  • Comments (0)
  • Recommend
 
 

REAL POSSIBILITIES

AARP Real Possibilities

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

CHECK OUT OUR
NEW IPAD APP!

ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Commented

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Chapter 2

PART 1
Stress is a Survival Mechanism

The physical sensations we feel when stress strikes are rooted in our prehistoric ancestors' drive to survive. You think we have stressful conditions? The early humans faced off with wild, carnivorous animals. To outrun their prey, and avoid becoming prey themselves, these ancestors developed a set of physical adaptations to focus all possible energy on survival. Stress hormones temporarily boost our strength, speed and alertness—the qualities that could help us outrun a saber-tooth tiger. Energy is sapped from our digestive, reproductive and other systems that are not necessary for immediate survival. We have a surplus of glucose for energy. It's all focused on preparing us to run or take on our opponent in battle, the reaction we still call “flight or fight.”

PART 2
Modern Stress is Different

These days, there are no saber-toothed tigers. We have turned other stressors into our virtual saber-toothed tigers, however. Environmental factors and social or psychological challenges are standing in as the main stressors in the modern world. But our bodies have not adapted to the new reality. Physiologically speaking, we react to an angry boss with the same physical sensations that our species developed to react to life-or-death challenges. Our bodies are flooded with stress hormones, such as cortisol and norepinephrine. Our digestive and reproductive systems are squelched in favor of dramatic increases in blood pressure and heart rate. But we don't use this reaction to run away for several miles at top speed. The body's systems go into what was once a rare and necessary state of survival in response to sometimes slight psychosocial challenges in the modern world.

PART 3
We Need Some Stress

TTop 5
Sources of Stress
Sometimes, our stress response proves to be a positive thing. When it kicks in as we realize we are beginning to cross the street amid oncoming traffic, we suddenly have the improved reaction time and drive to jump back to the curb. Also, mild stress such as having a deadline to meet or a child's cries to answer keep us engaged and productive in our lives. We also learn to manage stress by dealing with it. So long as the stressors in our life do not overwhelm the system, we can learn to recognize our stress response and bounce back more efficiently over time.

AARP Driver Safety-Drive and Save

 

 

Discounts & Benefits

AARP FIGHTS FOR YOU
ADVOCACY & PROGRAMS

tax form

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

Find a free Tax-Aide location
near you.

AARP In Your Corner

Visit Black Community, Español  and Asian Community pages.

AARP Drivers Safety logo

Driver Safety Program

Register at a location near you to keep your driving skills sharp. 

Create The Good 

Find opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood. 

AARP Drive to End Hunger logo

Drive to End Hunger

NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon teams up with AARP's Foundation. 

 

Green Dot Prepaid Card

Prepaid MasterCard

AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard brought to you by Green Dot.

Most Popular

Viewed

Nothing has been viewed

Commented