Where did stress come from?

 

As long as humans have been around - there has been stress. Perhaps we called it different things, gave it labels like tension, over-work, or strain, but it has definitely been there. Cave men and women knew stress well. When danger lurked, their adrenalin flowed, their hearts went into pitter/patter high drive, their breathing got faster, they perspired more, they were in a state of physical arousal and readiness to go into battle or make haste when needed. If it weren’t for stress - we humans would not have survived long - we’d have been eaten by sabre tooth tigers early on in our evolution. Had we not had the sense and the ability to run away, we’d have been a Big Mac for a huge tiger, or some other equally fierce and hungry beast.  This reaction is called the FIGHT or FLIGHT syndrome.

 

Throughout history, people have reacted to danger by going into “high gear” physically, to be safe. We were programmed to react this way so we could continue to exist as a species. Fight or flight was critical to survival back in caveman times when we were chased by tigers and other hungry wild creatures. We are buffered and protected, we no longer walk 10 miles daily looking for food, nor do we have to fight the tribe down the road for access to the water hole. We’ve evolved as humans, we live in a sophisticated world where our water pours from the tap and the fish for dinner was found on a tray at IGA. Our bodies haven’t really evolved in a reasonable manner. There are no tigers chasing us today, yet we are still ‘wired’ as if there were. In terms of practicality and health, we’d be better off if our systems had evolved with less fight or flight and maybe they will ...in another million years or so.  However, we still need the fight or flight, just not so much or so often. For example, in today’s world, if your body didn’t react to stress signals - the basketball coming straight for your head when the neighbour’s kid is shooting hoops and misses, would give you quite a headache. However, your body responds and you quickly get out of the way. Stress reactions save you many times.

 

 

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