1. Most of the time when we think about stress, the boss or our ex-spouse comes to mind. People, places, and things can certainly contribute to our feelings of stress but they are not the original cause. In order to survive over the last several million years, our bodies have developed the fight-or-flight response to alert us to danger. That mechanism is an instinctual reaction to a perceived threat outside of us.

    Acute stress

    For example, you’re driving home from a long day at the office and a kid runs out in front of your car. Within a faction of a second you slam on the brakes and stop the car. Your body produces adrenalin so that your heart jumps 30 beats in an instant, blood pressure rises, and your breathing turns to rapid, shallow, noisy, and irregular. The blood travels away from your limbs – and the outer part of your body into your core – to keep glucose and oxygen going to your brain. Non-essential organ systems, like digestion, actually start shutting down in descending order of survival.

    This is called an acute stress reaction. It keeps your body functioning while you’re in distress, but it is hard on your body. This is not the problem, it’s working just as nature intended.

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