Not all stress is the same. Some of the stress that we face each day can be detrimental to our well-being, and some types of stress can actually be helpful to us. 

If our body and brain are working well then we may not even be aware of some of the stress we are under. However, if they are not working in sync then we can become burnt out, over anxious or depressed.

Stress is the body’s reaction to events which are outside our normal comfort zone. When one experiences a stressful event, part of the brain, called the amygdala, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This area of the brain communicates with the rest of the body, resulting in a release of adrenaline so that the person has the energy for “fight or flight”.

This “fight-or-flight” response causes the physical reactions which most people associate with stress including increased heart rate, heightened senses, a deeper intake of breath. Finally, a hormone called cortisol is released, which helps to reduce the stress reaction.  When the stressful event is over, cortisol levels fall and the body returns to normal.

While stress itself is not necessarily problematic, the buildup of cortisol in the brain can have long-term effects. Thus, chronic stress can lead to health problems.

Cortisol’s functions are part of the natural process of the body. But when chronic stress is experienced, the body makes more cortisol than it has a chance to release. This is when cortisol and stress can lead to trouble.

Strategies for managing stress, can involve all the things which make up a healthy life style, including, work life balance, enough sleep and exercise and healthy relationships

Resources on stress:

Managing stress

When stress is good for you

Working in High Stress Environments

Information Sheet on Anxiety