Co to jest stres?

Stress is one of the most used words, both in the mass media and in ordinary conversation. Some time ago there was talk of discouragement, then of despondency. It can be said that in the concept of „stress” includes both. Simply put, stress is a physical and emotional response to all kinds of external threats. It is a non-specific reaction of the body to any demands placed upon it. Stress energizes us, allowing us to meet the challenges of everyday life. We can even be happy to feel its milder varieties – the excitement caused by increased secretion of adrenaline. Employees are under constant pressure from the boss demanding better of them work. Athletes strive with all their might to achieve better results. The excitement of the teams battling for the championship is imparted to the spectators. People are in very different situations, but they have one thing in common – they all experience stress.


Often people know how to deal with stress, and even treat it as a stimulus to action and actively strive for it. We are all programmed to deal with certain kinds of stress. Each of us has experienced a rapid heartbeat, tremors, stomach cramps, muscle tension, intestinal tension and other types of symptoms. These reactions are referred to as flight or fight reactions because our entire body is geared to one or the other in an imminent threat.
When the challenge passes, symptoms subside quickly, breathing returns to normal, but there may be a feeling of deep exhaustion. The problem arises when returning to normal turns out to be impossible. This happens when stress has a general, unspecified source, when stress is chronic, or when stress is caused by several simultaneous factors. The causes of stress are many and varied, they can be pleasant (such as going away or getting married) or unpleasant (such as losing a job, a loved one or something goes against plan) all require a change of adaptation, or re-adaptation.

There are several categories of stress triggers. In the first place is the environment, that is, general conditions such as noise and environmental pollution, overpopulation of cities, tensions related to work and meeting deadlines, competition at work and general family conflicts. In second place are definitely negative events, such as financial difficulties or the death of a close family member. On the third – personal problems, e.g. conflict with the boss, upbringing problems with the child, fights with the wife or husband. Interestingly, stress can also be caused by events usually considered positive, desirable – vacation, promotion at work or getting married. Reactions to stress cause further magnification of stress. So you can encounter many disturbing symptoms that seemingly have no connection with current events, and yet they upset us enough to cause stress, which manifests itself in general nervousness, sleep disorders and depression. Studies show that the effects of stress manifest themselves in the functioning of our entire body – about 50 to 80% of all ailments are stress-related. Most likely, it concerns ulcers, colitis, bronchial asthma, skin inflammation, hay fever, arthritis, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, amenorrhoea, migraines. Hypertension is the most dangerous, because in extreme cases it leads to heart attacks, cerebral hemorrhages and kidney diseases. Even if stress does not cause disease, it limits us in many ways. Simply put, we function worse in conditions of stress that we cannot cope with .
The biological response to stress (regardless of the source of the stressors) is always the same. This reaction is associated with the action of various hormones and proceeds  in several phases. Contrary to popular belief, stress is not some terrible situation that should be avoided, rather it is a process that is constantly triggered throughout the life of a given individual.


Two main approaches have developed that explain how

an individual reacts when faced with a stressful situation. One focuses more on the physiological changes in stress then occurring, the other on psychological factors.

A theoretical approach that helps explain psychosomatic symptoms is the concept of the general adaptation syndrome, which was created by Hans Selye. According to this theory, the body’s response to stress consists of three main stages:

1. Reakcja alarmowa – składa się ze zmian fizjologicznych, które są pierwszą odpowiedzią organizmu na zadziałanie czynnika wywołującego stres czyli stresora. Stresorem jest każdy czynnik szkodliwy dla organizmu czy to fizyczny (taki, jak nieodpowiednie jedzenie, brak snu, uszkodzenie ciała), czy psychologiczny (utrata miłości lub poczucia bezpieczeństwa). Reakcja alarmowa powoduje wydzielanie dwóch hormonów: adrenaliny i noradrenaliny. Są to związki chemiczne bardzo podobne, z tą jednak różnicą, ze adrenalina ma dużo silniejsze działanie od noradrenaliny. W momencie reakcji alarmowej organizm zostaje brutalnie zalany tymi dwoma hormonami, co wywołuje następujące objawy: następuje przemieszczenie do krwi rezerw cukru zmagazynowanych w wątrobie, a także rozszerzenie naczyń krwionośnych mięśni (podczas gdy w pozostałych  częściach ciała naczynia te ulegają skurczeniu. Krótko mówiąc, krew jest bogatsza w cukier i tlen, a to oznacza nadmiar energii dostarczanej mięśniom.


2. .Jeśli kontakt z wywołującą stres sytuacją trwa nadal, to po reakcji alarmowej następuje stadium odporności. Tutaj organizm zdaje się wytwarzać odporność na ten szczególny the stressor that triggered the alarm response. The symptoms that were present in the first stage disappear, although the disturbing stimulation continues, and the physiological processes that were disturbed during the alarm reaction seem to return to normal. As far as hormonal responses are concerned, during this phase there is an increase in the secretion of hormones from the anterior pituitary gland (ACTH) and the adrenal cortex corticosteroids) . resistance. It then enters the final phase of stress-related changes, the stage of exhaustion. Many physiological dysfunctions that originally appeared

during an alarm response, it starts again. If the stressor continues to affect the body, death often follows. However, it is rare for stress not to be relieved before reaching the stage of exhaustion. Of course, the sooner and better we act on stressors, the smaller the consequences of stress will be.