Psychology and Cognitive Sciences

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Student Question

What factors influence reactions to stress?

Expert Answers

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Stress is caused when your body thinks it is in harm’s way.  Originally and in nature, this meant physical nature.  Stress can now be caused by all kinds of non-life-threatening pressures.  Our bodies are designed to respond to short-term stress through our fight or flight response.  In short, when you become stressed your body produces adrenaline in order to give you the energy to escape.  Unfortunately, this is only a short-term fix.  In the long term, stress can result in a variety of health problems including elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, anxiety, headaches, muscle tension, insomnia and irritability.

Stress can be avoided by letting your body know that you are not in immediate danger.  Calm yourself down by taking deep breaths.  Avoid stress by ensuring that you get plenty of exercise and downtime.  Prolonged exposure to stress can be very dangerous.  Learning to cope is the only cure.

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