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Stress 101

The Science of Stress and Its Impact on Your Health

What is Stress?

Stress refers to your body’s response to challenges it may face. It is normal to experience a certain degree of stress during life events and changes, which can include everything from work to physical activity to relationships.

• Stress is a hardwired survival technique built into your body as a means of protection.

When triggered, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) signals the “fight or flight response,” which mobilizes you to take action and avoid danger. However, the body can’t tell the difference between the kinds of stress we experience, and the response produced if we’re being chased by a bear is the same as if we’re stressed about giving a presentation at work. Over time, consistent stress signals can cause burnout, both mentally and physically.

• Everyone deals with stress differently, and no two people will experience the same situation in exactly the same way.

This is because there are actually two kinds of stress: distress (what we typically think of as “stress”) and eustress (positive stress that can inspire and motivate us). Examples of distress include worrying about paying your bills or anxiety about your performance at work or in a relationship with a partner.

Examples of eustress include preparing for an exam that allows you to move forward in your education or career or how you feel before a momentous personal event, such as getting married or buying a home.

• By reframing some of what you experience from distress to eustress, you can cultivate a more positive mind-set around stress, which will help you create better stress management skills and coping mechanisms.

This is important because 2020 has been an especially difficult year for many as an ongoing global pandemic has caused us to change how we work, live, and socialize, creating much more

stress and anxiety in our lives.

This guide will give you a better understanding of the different types of stress and how stress can affect your body as well as healthy ways to manage stress through diet and lifestyle.

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