What is Stress?
An Enemy of Anti Aging!

What is stress? It's reality, that's what it is. And if you're trying to be a victor in the anti aging battle, it's your mortal enemy. Here's the dictionary definition of stress: "A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances." And, of course, we are all facing "adverse or very demanding circumstances". But stress-producing situations are not always bad.

"Every-Once-in-a-While" Stress

In seeking to answer the question, "What is stress?" we need to understand that there are two fundamentally different kinds of stress. The first kind can be called episodic stress. This variety of stress has been around since mankind was ushered out of the Garden. When we face a situation where there is significant adversity or danger, God has designed our bodies to go through several physiological changes very rapidly. These changes help us to face and handle adversity.

My great-grandmother was a young widow with four children in the house when her home caught on fire. Faced with this highly stressful situation, she grabbed a ladder that she had not been able to even lift before and quickly carried it and put it up against the house, in order to safely rescue her children. You probably know a story like this yourself. It was her body's response to stress that enabled her to snap into action and swiftly perform feats that she normally didn't have the strength to accomplish.

"All-the-Time" Stress

What is stress? It's what I deal with every day! If this is true for you, you are experiencing chronic stress. With chronic stress your body goes through the same kinds of physical changes that it does with episodic stress. But you must stifle the fight or flight response your body is prepared for. When, time after time, you are forced to suppress your natural, physiological reactions to stress, aging is accelerated. Here is exactly where you must attack the problem of stress.

What Happens When I Am Stressed?

These are the symptoms of stress, produced by the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol:
    • Pupils dilate to sharpen vision
    • Heart rate and blood pressure increase to supply blood more quickly
       and efficiently
    • Blood flow is diverted from less vital to more vital organs
    • Liver releases glucose and fatty acids to quickly supply and sustain
       energy
    • Bronchial tubes dilate to maximize oxygen intake

During episodic stress your body consumes what was produced and stress is relieved. Tension is resolved. Your body used was what provided and all is good inside your body. During chronic stress your body doesn't utilize what was produced: there is excess glucose and fat in your system, and stress is not relieved.

You Must Take Action

What is stress? Because of our sedentary, high-octane culture, it is the thing that is killing us slowly. When someone cuts you off in traffic, when your boss seems unreasonable, or when you can't talk to a real person on the phone again, and you suppress the boiling frustration within — it's got to be fixed! If you don't deal with it, you're on the fast track to aging. To more fully answer the question, "What is stress? we need to consider the effects of stress.