The Truth about Stress

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The Truth About Stress

Stress gets a bad rap, but without it, you would never have existed. Unfortunately, for many people, it’s become more of a hindrance than a help.

We cannot get rid of stress. It’s an automatic response mechanism to stressors and sudden changes in the environment. It stopped us from dying by forcing us to pay attention to the dangers around us and to get our muscles ready to fight or flee at a moment’s notice.

In bygone eras, humans didn’t experience much stress. Stress was a short-term reaction to an immediate problem. Whether a predator or a raiding party, once the problem died, so did our stress. We could return to our mundane existence of peace and tranquillity, content in the knowledge that we were safe for the time being.

The world has changed, however, and so has its dangers. Predators and raiders are no longer easy to identify. We have traded our tribes for strangers. Sudden death is no longer by the teeth of jaguars but by the wheels of cars. Destitution wrought by uncontrollable forces is no longer limited to calamities of nature, for economies and policies can destroy entire nations.

Stressors, once limited to instances of few-and-far-between life-threatening situations, have become our way of life. We should not be in a constant state of fight or flight. Chronic stress slowly tears a body apart and can easily lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. The auto-response that kept us alive for so long has become the very thing that cuts our lives short.

Understanding stress and how to deal with it has become vital in the 21st century. In The Truth About Stress, journalist and TV presenter Fiona Phillips is conducting a unique experiment with three stressed-out volunteers for that very purpose.

Follow their journey this Sunday, 25 July, on Da Vinci (channel 308)

Author: Jan Hendrik Harmse