There is a lot of talk about stress these days. First of all, here is how defines stress.

pressure or tension exerted on a material object.

“The distribution of stress is uniform across the bar”


pressure · tension · strain · tightness · tautness · tensity

a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

In this article, I am going to be focusing on number 5, the mental or emotional strain or tension definition. Stress tends to trigger the fight, flight, or flee response which is supposed to be an emergency state which lasts for only a short time. When there is not a short-term emergency requiring a physical response then the state can last for a long time and even become chronic. It may also be triggered repeatedly over a long period of time. When this happens, negative symptoms can result. Here are just a few of the negative symptoms that can develop as a result of mental or emotional stress.

Excess muscle tension can produce headaches, neck pain, back pain, improper movements, and problematic tension during activities like sports, music, and dancing.

Stress can cause negative effects on the cardiovascular system. Heart Rate speeds up. Blood vessels constrict. Heart Rate Variability decreases and blood pressure increases. These changes cause the heart to work harder than necessary. This can weaken the heart and the blood vessels over time.

Insomnia can also be a symptom of stress. Sometimes the problems of the day are not resolved by bedtime and the brain and body are not in an appropriate state for good sleep.

When your brain is moving too fast, trying to process many thoughts about what you are worried about, it is very difficult to sleep. You can have trouble falling asleep and or staying asleep. If you don’t sleep well your physical and mental health is negatively affected because your brain and body don’t get a chance to restore themselves.

Finally, stress can cause cognitive problems, which have to do with the quality of a person’s thinking. Here is another definition from for a term used to describe the thinking function of the brain:

Executive Function

A set of cognitive skills used to control one’s thoughts and behavior, especially the skills needed to focus on and organize tasks.

The area of the brain that is most involved with executive function is the frontal lobe. Stress causes this part of the brain not to function properly. The brain switches into an emergency state which is best for survival rather than thinking. This is why it is not easy to do mental work when you feel stressed.

These are just a few of the negative effects of stress. I hope you see why it should be a priority to work on managing stress.

Harry L. Campbell

914-762-4646 –

Author of What Stress Can Do, Available on

Biofeedback Resources International Corp.

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Biofeedback/Neurofeedback Training and Seminars are designed to teach clinicians biofeedback fundamentals and cutting-edge applications.