“Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.” – Mayo Clinic
The stress response is a normal physical and psychological reaction to life events. In small doses, stress can actually be a positive thing – it can promote effort and push us to take necessary action.
However, if the demands of daily life exceed one’s ability to cope, our physical and mental health can suffer.
Our brain is hardwired with an “alarm system” to protect us from any perceived threat. Should this system detect a threat, our body instantly releases hormones to deal with it. This is known as the “fight-or-flight response.”
Under normal circumstances, once the threat is neutralized, the brain returns to its natural state. However, for some people – because of constant exposure to (past or present) stress – the transition from heightened awareness to a more relaxed state proves very difficult.
As with most brain functions, our alarm systems are highly individualistic. Thus, how our body interprets signals from this system are different. Psychosomatic symptoms, or symptoms with no known physical cause, are incredibly common. In one study, published in The American Journal of Medicine, 84% of patients reported symptoms in which no known physical cause was found. In other words, 84% experienced pain of a purely psychological nature. (We’ll discuss this a little more, later on.)
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