We stress about the big things: economy; job security; divorce. We stress about the little things: being late for work; unexpected car repairs; the holiday season; public speaking. All can have a detrimental effect on a person: worn out, overwhelmed, unwell, stressed out.
Regardless of the causes, big or small, the resulting flood of chemicals in the body has the same negative effects. Left unchecked, it has been linked to serious illnesses such as heart disease and strokes. In fact it is estimated that ninety per cent of visits to physicians are the result of stress-related symptoms.
The release of these chemicals, such as adrenaline and cortisol, into our systems is a natural part of our genetics. It is part of the ‘fight or flight’ response, a state of increased arousal which is triggered by stressful situations. In ancient man this could have meant attack by enemies or wild beasts and was necessary to provide the strength and energy to fight off the threat or to escape. The changes to the body caused by these chemicals include an increase in heart rate (to flood the muscles and brain with blood), faster breathing (again, to provide fuel for the muscles and brain), increased alertness and heightened senses. The increase of blood flow to the muscles and brain however, causes a de