In small doses, stress can help people perform under pressure and motivate them to do their best. But it is not desirable to constantly be in an emergency mode as the mind and body would have to ultimately pay the price.
Stress is a normal physical response to events that make us feel threatened or upset our balance in some way. When a threat is perceived, our nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and Cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action. As a result, our heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and senses become sharper.
These physical changes increase our strength and stamina, speed our reaction time, and enhance our focus, thus preparing us to either fight or flee from the danger at hand. This reaction to a real or imagined danger is called the stress response.
The stress response is the body's way of protecting us. When working properly, it helps us to stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save our life by giving us extra strength, or for example, spurring us to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. The stress response also helps us rise to meet challenges.
It keeps us on our toes during a presentation at work, sharpens our concentration when attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives us to study for an exam when we would rather be watching TV. But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to our health, mood, productivity, relationships, and our quality of life.
It is important to understand that our body does not...