Stress – From Savior to Killer?

Our first topic to look at is stress and following the title of a video I found on youtube, I gave this post the headline “Stress – From Savior to Killer?”.









Stress affects all of us in different ways, is inevitable in life and originally was very necessary for survival, but if it becomes constant and is not dealt with intelligently (as usually the case in the modern world and with our thought-based lifestyle), it becomes a major risk factor for our physical and psychological health.

An original definition of stress (by Hans Selye, who coined the term in its modern connotation in 1936) sees it as the non-specific response of the body to any demand (stressor) made upon it.
Stress is thus an hormonal response to many different causes that threaten to knock the body out of his natural state of homeostasis.

Faced with alarming situations the body produces so called stress hormones, especially adrenaline and cortisol, in order to help cope with the situation (like in the classical fight-or-flight situation that our early human ancestors were often faced with).

Likewise, the same response is triggered when alarming situations are merely anticipated, imagined or thought about, which – living in a society based on thought and time –  leads to constantly raised levels of stress hormones in the body. When produced continuously and in high amounts, those stress hormones lead or contribute to a variety of severe health problems (see graphic “How Stress affects the Body” below).

The ancient overvaluation of thought paired with the complexity and demands of modern day society contribute to an ever increasing amount of stress in people’s lives. This urgently needs to be looked at and dealt with for the benefit of both the individual and society.









To delve deeper into the topic, I gathered some interesting infographics and videos that you can see further down.

The infographic on “How Stress Affects the Body” created by shows different effects of stress on the body and additionally lists some important facts on the topic.

There are many different causes of stress (so called “stressors”), some are inevitable and represent challenges that life just presents us with from time to time, but many of them are unhealthy habits. I created a small overview that lists a number of common stressors.

The following videos from youtube inform about different aspects of stress. The first of them is about the research of Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky who also wrote the popular book “Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers” on the topic. It is a kind of trailer for a very interesting and worthwhile longer documentary by National Geographic that can also be found on youtube. Its name is “Stress – Portrait of a Killer”.

I hope this post with all its information could give you a little overview on stress, its causes and effects and help with the understanding why it is so important do deal with stress in a sensible and immediate way.

If you want to investigate more for yourself, here some more tips for further reading:

Book Tip:

Robert M. Sapolsky – Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers

Websites and Articles:
Official Website of the American Institute of Stress
Online guide about stress
Article “Taming Stress” by Robert M. Sapolsky, from: Scientific American (Update 02/11/2012: Unfortunately, the article is no longer visible in its entirety, but only as a preview version.)

See you in the next post,
Thomas from Brockwood