Stress affects most people in some way. Acute (sudden, short-term) stress leads to rapid changes throughout the body. Almost all body systems (the heart and blood vessels, the immune system, the lungs, the digestive system, the sensory organs, and brain) gear up to meet perceived danger.
These stresses could prove beneficial in a critical, life-or-death situation. Over time, however, repeated stressful situations put a strain on the body that may contribute to physical and psychological problems. Chronic (long-term) stress can have real health consequences and should be addressed like any other health concern.
Fortunately, research is showing that lifestyle changes and stress-reduction techniques can help people learn to manage their stress.
People can experience stress from external or internal factors.
Stressors can also be defined as short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic).
Acute Stress. Acute stress is the reaction to an immediate threat, commonly known as the fight or flight response. The threat can be any situation that is perceived, even subconsciously or falsely, as a danger.
Common acute stressors include:
Under most circumstances, once the acute threat has passed, levels of stress hormones return to normal. This is called the relaxation response.
Chronic Stress. Frequently, modern life poses ongoing stressful situations that are not short-lived. The urge to act (to fight or flee) must therefore be controlled. Stress, then, becomes chronic.
Common chronic stressors include:
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