The Bodies Response To Stress

            Stress is a defense mechanism for the human body serving as part of the fight or flight response. It is a natural defense mechanism that allows our species to survive a difficult situation. Unfortunately in our society stress imposes demands on our body that are not used for the fight or flight response on a daily basis. Over a period of time, chronic stress is attributed to disease and illness. In a review of studies over the last three decades, stress is correlated with 70 to 80 percent of all the visits to physicians and at least 50 percent of all illnesses (Dusek, Everly and Girdano 2009).

             Our muscles receive only two commands from the brain, contract or relax. When the body is stressed our muscles contract creating chronically tense muscles and cycling back to increased stress for the body.  Chronically tense muscles result in a number of stress related disorders such as backache, headaches, spasms of the colon and esophagus, asthma, lockjaw, muscle tears and pulls, tight throat and chest, and some eye problems.  When a muscle is stressed it shortens through a nerve impulse but no work is done.  Pain develops when a muscle is chronically shortened through stress because abnormal pulling pressure is placed a joint and becomes susceptible to tearing.  Purposeful movement of a muscle comes from pathways in our brain, primarily the cerebellum and motor cortex. Becoming aware of the bodies stress level can allow your brain to create more of these purposeful muscle movements and decrease some of the risk factors associated with stress.

              Stress creates a response in our bodies that is not necessarily the best for us. Take a moment to check in with your stress levels. Pay attention to what your muscles are doing when stress comes into your life. Find what techniques work for decreasing your stress, and increasing muscle relaxation. Look for more articles to follow on stress relief!


Dusek, Dorothy E, Everly, George S. Jr, and Girdano, Daniel A. Controlling Stress and Tension. San Francisco,Ca. Pearson Education Inc. 2009.







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