Stress Information

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Threats and the fight or flight response

Normally when a human being faces a threat a self defense mechanism called the fight or flight response is activated to help him to either run from that situation or fight what's threatening him.

However, in our modern world most of the threats that we face cannot be solved by either of these two choices. For example the threat of making your boss angry when arriving late or the threat of losing your job cannot be solved by fighting your boss or running from him!!

The problem with triggering the fight or flight response

The problem with triggering the fight and flight response when its not needed is that it exhausts your body on the long term.

Because many changes take place in your body during the fight or flight response problems might arise if it was triggered often.

A countless number of diseases can result from these false alarms including cancer, heart attacks, strokes and even suicidal behavior!!.

The different types of stress

There are different types of stress that a person might experience throughout his life, these types are:

  • Episodic Acute Stress: Where you get stressed because you are in a rush because you have many things to do in a short period of time. Usually type A personalities suffer from this type of stress.
  • Chronic stress: Where a person is stressed as a result of a problem that doesn't seem to have a solution in the time being or at least in the near future. Poverty or living with someone that you don't love or even living in a country with economic problems like unemployment or inflation can result in chronic stress. The problem with chronic stress is that sometimes people get used to it to the extent that they becomes totally unaware of its presence
  • Acute stress: is the normal stress you experience when facing a threat. Your fight and flight response is activated when facing acute stress

What can cause stress?

Stress can be caused by either internal factors, external factors or both. Examples of external factors are:

  • Noise (If the television was turned on you can simply turn it off)
  • Bad lighting (Bad lighting may increase your stress because it makes concentration harder)
  • People who talk beside you or even talk to you
  • Interruption by any means
  • Being in an untidy place and having difficulties finding your stuff. This increases stress

All the previous were external factors but the real causes of the stress are internal. After all, if you weren’t stressed in the first place hearing some noise is very unlikely to make you stressed. Below are some of the reasons that could lead to stress:

  • You are a type A personality
  • You are loaded with work but limited in time
  • You are being pressured or pushed to complete your work
  • You have to choose between alternatives and time is short
  • Your decisions will have a big impact and so you must not make mistakes
  • You have some problems and can't find solutions to them

Some people think that smoking can help them reduce their stress and as a result they smoke whenever they find themselves stressed.

Although this may help them on the short term still the long term effect is really harmful.

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