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    Physiology of Stress

    There are a variety of ways individuals feel stress physically, whether it is trembling hands or trouble sleeping. Stress is a part of every day life and while most people understand the symptoms of the stress response, few know the underlying physiological mechanisms.¹ In the realm of biology, stress is understood as what happens when an organism fails to response appropriately to threats. Stress can be ephemeral and beneficial, or it can be long-lasting and harmful, which can cause depression.¹ Managing stress properly is of great importance given the wide range of bodily systems impacted by stress hormones.

    Homeostasis is a concept central to the idea of stress. Most biochemical processes strive to maintain equilibrium (or homeostasis), a steady state that exists more as an ideal and less as an achievable condition.¹ Environmental factors, internal or external stimuli, continually disrupt homeostasis. A life-threatening situation such as a major physical trauma or prolonged starvation can greatly disrupt homeostasis.¹ 

    Playing a critical role in the body's perception of an response to stress is the brain. Pinpointing exactly which part of the brain is responsible for particular aspects of a stress response is hard and often unclear.¹


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    1. Ulrich-Lai, Y.M. and J.P. Herman. (2009). Neural regulation of endocrine and autonomic stress responses.

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    Characteristics of Stress Management

    When dealing with stress, it is important to have a social support system. This will serve to promote the physical and emotional health of the person dealing with stress. It can help to make life more fulfilling, contributing to longevity, and serve to speed up the recovery. A lack of social support has been associated with high