Energy Stress vs Destructive Stress
Stress serves as a defensive and adaptive mechanism that allows you to physically and mentally deal with negative situations. This concept, known as the fight-or-flight syndrome or adaptive response, was originally coined by Hans Selye, MD, a professor and director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine at the University of Montreal. The adaptive response is what happens in the body when encountering danger. For example, when Indiana Jones faces a snake, his pulse quickens, he breathes faster, his muscles tense, and his brain uses more oxygen and gears all his internal physiological activities toward helping him survive the situation.
This type of energy-related stress can boost the immune system as well as physical strength, and in the short-term, is beneficial. Once the perceived danger subsides, normal internal operations resume. Renowned stress researcher Robert Sapolsky, PhD, a professor of biological sciences, neurology, and neurological sciences at Stanford University, states that your body essentially turns off everything that’s not essential to surviving, such as digestion, growth, and reproduction during this short adaptive phase of stress. In his 30 years of research, he found that in this phase, you think more clearly, and certain aspects of learning and memory are enhanced.
Unfortunately, the adaptive response is not always beneficial. Dr. Sapolsky tells us that that constant non-life-threatening stressors trigger the release of adrenalin and other stress hormones, which, over time, can have devastating consequences on your health. For instance, if you turn on the stress response chronically for purely psychological reasons, you increase your risk of adult onset diabetes and high blood pressure. If you’re chronically shutting down the digestive system due to stress response, there’s a cluster of gastrointestinal disorders you’re more at risk of developing.
FOR INSTANCE, IF YOU TURN ON THE STRESS RESPONSE CHRONICALLY FOR PURELY PSYCHOLOGICAL REASONS, YOU INCREASE YOUR RISK OF ADULT ONSET DIABETES AND HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE. Additionally, stress hormones can clog arteries, increase plaque, damage blood vessels, and restrict blood flow, which jeopardizes heart health.