By: Gabriel Vitug
High School Student & Guest Author

When we encounter a threatening situation, our bodies go into fight, flight or freeze mode. This reaction was extremely beneficial in pre-modern society. However, instead of being at risk of being eaten by a saber-toothed tiger, modern humans face stress in their jobs, relationships, or finances. Since stressors are all around us, some might find themselves in this hyper-alert mode constantly which can cause chronic tension. Some people may also be more prone to stress due to their genetics, upbringing, or environment.

The biology behind stress.

When we face a threat, the hypothalamus (a tiny region in your brain’s base) sets off an alarm that causes a domino effect. In response, adrenal glands located atop of the kidneys release adrenaline and cortisol into the body. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, causes a rise in blood pressure, and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol on the other hand suppresses bodily functions that would be non-essential in a fight or flight situation. Non-essential functions include the digestive system, reproductive system, and the growth process. This intricate alarm system also communicates with the brain’s regions that control mood, motivation, and fear.

The negative effects of chronic stress.

Chronic stress is the constant, prolonged exposure to stress. This can be very damaging to your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, the long term health problems include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

What are the different ways to relieve stress?

Stress is a normal part of life and there’s no way around it. You may have no control over your situation. Still, there are plenty of ways to ease stress in a healthy way. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following stress management strategies:

  • Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep
  • Practicing relaxation techniques such as trying yoga, practicing deep breathing, getting a massage or learning to meditate
  • Exercise, such as walking, strength training, or swimming
  • Taking time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music
  • Fostering healthy friendships
  • Having a sense of humor
  • Volunteering in your community
  • Seeking professional counseling when needed

Practicing these stress management techniques works because they are able to keep you preoccupied. Personally, an effective stress reliever for me is connecting with friends. Meeting up with friends either physically or over the internet is a great way for me to de-stress and take my mind off things.

Being able to manage stress in a healthy way could offer you “peace of mind and perhaps a longer, healthier life.

Works Cited

Mayo Clinic. “Chronic stress puts your health at risk.” Mayo Clinic, 19 March 2019,
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037. Accessed 3 June 2021
Harvard Health. “Exercising to Relax.” Harvard Health Publishing, 7 July 2020,
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax. Accessed 3 June 2021
Harvard Health. “5 of the best exercises you can ever do” Harvard Health Publishing, 7 July
2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/5-of-the-best-exercises-you-can-ever-do. Accessed 4 June 2021