“From an evolutionary perspective, having a stress response is important. If you’re being chased by a predator, you need to get away, so your body responds by creating protective barriers to stress. Your blood pressure goes up; you become hyper vigilant; and your blood even releases compounds that allow it to coagulate better, in case you get hurt,” explains family physician Scott Kaiser, MD, director of geriatric cognitive health at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute.
However, today’s most common causes of stress are not predators or chases at all. They are actually the little things that have a tendency to block our happiness. “It’s when you react to answering emails and attending to all the notifications from your phone as if you are being chased by a tiger that stress becomes a real problem,” says Kaiser.
“Chronic stress is what raises our risks for disease. We can’t get rid of stress in our lives, so it’s how we deal with stress that will help us in the long run.” No matter what you’re dealing with (whether it’s pressure at the workplace or coping with a traumatic life event), take a closer look at the signs your body sends you.