Stress and stress-related conditions

ASHA-Stress-ProtectionAny efforts, which exceed a person’s level of tolerance can bring on stress. Exercise is stressful for the sedentary, but is easily tolerated by physically trained people. Likewise, socializing may be very stressful for shy person, but fun for an extrovert. Stress is a psycho physiological reaction of the human organism to above normal effort.  Stress is not a disease: a fit body is able to withstand health conditions resulting from stress.  Applying any kind of mild stressors regularly helps keep our bodies fit for inevitably occurring stressful situations. This phenomenon, called Hormesis, reveals itself in any forms of stress, for instance, low doses of toxic substances, periodic exposure to cold or caloric restriction elicit a protective responses that shields us from further stresses.

The part of our bodies called the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), is specifically designed to control emergency body functions. It prepares us for “fight or flight” — all functions needed for immediate use are activated, while all functions that can wait are inhibited. Heart rate and respiration, for example, are increased by the SNS, while intestinal functions are decreased. Due to our stressful environment, the SNS is usually over stimulated. Swedish researchers Olsson & von Schéele showed that mechanical tactile stimulation activated the Parasympathetic Nervuos System:

  • Olsson, E. M., & von Schéele, B. (2011). Relaxing on a bed of nails: an exploratory study of the effects on the autonomic, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems, and saliva cortisol. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,17(1), 5-12. Read article