Today many of us are facing a lot of physical and emotional stress. When we don’t have good ways to deal with all this stress, it can end up hurting us in many ways, physical and mental. If we live with too much stress for too long, it can start to overwhelm us mentally and too much stress can also harm our body organs.

Many of us are sleeping too little, eating the wrong foods, drinking too much coffee, smoking too many cigarettes, juggling too many responsibilities, facing impossible deadlines, and exposed to a lot of chemical and noise pollution.

In addition, we often suffer from other stress factors that we may not recognize.

A lot of us don’t have an emotional buffer zone. Our families, instead of being a source of support, may live far away. Many of us no longer live in safe and stable communities. We don’t have time for our friends. We are always on the go.

In addition to the pressures of our daily lives, the constant barrage of terrible news coming at us from every corner of the world also adds to our sense of helplessness and anxiety. We have to cope with severe financial pressures and uncertainty as well as potential terrorist threats that are always mentioned in the media.

As a result of too many assaults on our mind and our body, we are often in a state of feeling acute stress much of the time.

What is stress exactly? Why is too much stress a problem?

Your body has a wonderful internal program to deal with dangerous events that pose a threat to your survival. This body system to deal with stress is great for coping with the sorts of stress our ancestors used to face, when they might be confronted with an animal attack or a flood. Our body’s stress system is mainly meant to deal with immediate physical danger.

When your brain decides you are facing a threat of some kind, it pours lots of chemicals into your bloodstream to make you feel instantly very alert, and very physically powerful to deal with potential danger, or to enable you to run away quickly.

This body system in response to a threat is meant to help you cope with immediate physical danger, such as an attack or an accident.

Your body’s chemicals released during a stressful and dangerous situation allow you to breathe much more deeply and quickly, taking in far more oxygen than usual. Your heart will be pounding in your chest. Your blood pressure will rise. You will have much higher levels of glucose in your blood in order to fuel your muscles.

These changes happen in your body so that in case of danger, your muscles have the ability to fight, to move heavy objects, or to swiftly run away.

This powerful bodily reaction to danger is sometimes called the "fight or flight response". The fight or flight response still operates in us today.

For thousands of years this built-in physical response to danger has helped people overcome dangerous threats like marauding bears, and raging fires and floods. If your ancestors had to fight off a bear, or run from a forest fire, this stress response of the body gave them a chance to survive the emergency.

The trouble is however, that in modern times, most of the stressors we face are not physical, but are psychological in origin. Most of the things that cause us to be stressed are not short term dangers, but events that go on and on for months.

We need to develop new ways to deal with the kinds of stress most of us face today. We need to find new ways to unwind and renew ourselves, or we will start to break down physically and mentally.

Author's Bio: 

This article is by Royane Real, author of "How You Can Be Smarter - Use Your Brain to Learn Faster, Remember Better and Be More Creative" To improve your brain power, download it today or get the paperback version at