What is Stress? How Does It Impact?
Stress is a term that is bandied about a lot. What is certain, however, is that everyone will experience stress at some point in their life. How it is experienced and how it is coped with will vary from person to person.
Hans Sayle (1907—1982) – the ‘father of stress research’ – is largely responsible for what we know about the human body and stress. He researched the general adaptation syndrome — more commonly known as ‘fight or flight’.
There are three distinct stages to the stress response.
Stage 1 – Alarm When your body perceives a threat (real or imagined) adrenaline is released. This causes your body to react by cutting off circulation to less immediately important systems (digestion and reproduction) and sends the blood to areas of the body that are responsible for physically carrying you away from the threat. You’ll have experienced this at some point in your life — your pupils dilate, your heart rate and breathing accelerates, adrenaline frees energy stores in your liver and blood from your spleen, sending it coursing through your veins.
A certain amount of stress is healthy and can give you the little push you need to perform whether it be during a race or in the board room. However, if the perceived threat does not disappear, the body enters a second phase
Stage 2 – Resistance The body cannot sustain the initial phase for more than a short period of time and so tries to adapt and meet the demands of the situation. If sufficient rest from the stressor is not received, the body depletes itself which eventually leads to stage three…
Stage 3 – Exhaustion By this third stage, your body is at its limit. Long term damage is under way and the body is no longer able to repair itself. The initial response symptoms may appear: raised heart rate, sweating and so on, and the body’s immune and endocrine glands are damaged. With reduced immune function your body is much more open to illness and infection.
The Results of Stress
For the individual, ulcers, diabetes, cancer, stroke as well as other cardiovascular problems can manifest. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, nervous exhaustion and mental breakdown are also common.
For the organisation, issues of contagious low morale, and reduced productivity can results, with increased absenteeism commonplace.