Stress is a normal part of life. The body’s stress responses are your first line of defense in life-threatening situations. If you encounter a lion in the jungle or a mugger on the street, stress triggers your body to produce an adrenalin rush that helps you run away faster or defend yourself with greater speed, strength, and quick decision-making.
Stress also serves as a stimulus to act and grow, which helps you adapt to ever-changing and ever-demanding environments. Therefore, stress in and of itself isn’t negative. It’s part of human life.
However, while stress is a normal part of life, prolonged stress is another story. Daily life doesn’t usually require you to flee from a lion in the jungle, so it doesn’t help your mind or body to continuously respond as if you are doing so. Unfortunately, the human body responds to any stress in the same biological ways it responds to the lion, even though these responses are often unhelpful in dealing with the stress.
Rapid societal change in the past 30 years translates to prolonged stress for many people. Subsequently, the prevalence of stress-related illness has climbed at an alarming rate. This is reflected in Webster’s definition of stress as a “physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.”