Stress Recovery – What is Stress? 1-800-237-1068
Stress is a powerful biological defense mechanism. Frightening, sudden, or painful events can disturb the bodies equilibrium, causing an instantaneous flush of stress hormones to race through the body producing a fight or flight response designed to deal with short-term events.
Imagine driving down the road and a car suddenly pulls out in front of you. The hypothalamus in the brain immediately releases CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone). This stress hormone activates the pituitary gland to secrete ACTH (adrenocorticotropin), causing the adrenal glands to release additional hormones: epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrealine). These two hormones raise blood pressure, redirect blood from the intestinal tract to the muscles to speed up reaction time. Cortisol (glucocorticold) is also released to create glucose (sugar) from the body's fuel stores for an extra boost of energy and act as an anti-inflammatory agent to prepare the body for possible injury. This cycle of events is known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.
The HPA axis gives your body added strength, increased awareness, and rapid reflexes that help you narrowly avoid the car that pulled out in front of you. When the moment is over, you can still feel the temporary effects of the stress hormones-high blood pressure, increased pulse, a pit in your stomach, and shaking hands and nerves.
The short term benefits of stress can improve concentration, focus, and reaction. Actors, athletes, and even students perform better under these short-term biological conditions. After a few minutes the body clears the stress hormones and returns to a state of equilibrium - but what if it doesn't?