Everyone has experienced stress at some point in their lives, whether caused by physical injuries, mental burdens, or stress related to external or environmental factors, such as pressure at school during exam preparation, work, or personal matters. But what exactly is stress, from a scientific point of view?
What is stress?
According to science, stress is the human body’s way of responding to certain changes or demands through a series of biological actions. In other words, when we experience a situation that causes stress, then our brain recognizes this and responds to it by triggering a series of biological actions. For example, when you are stressed, you may experience quickened breathing, racing heartbeat, perspiration, and elevated blood pressure. So when you feel your heart racing moments before you enter the examination hall, you are experiencing exam stress.
How does the body respond to stress?
As soon as the brain senses stress, the body releases the stress hormone known as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones trigger different responses to different parts of our body. For example, it slows down some bodily functions such as the immune system and digestive system. For this reason, during periods of stress, you may experience a lack of appetite, and lower immunity (more prone to sickness). On the other hand, some bodily functions enter a “fight or flight” mode, which leads to heightened sensory alertness, muscle tightness, pumped up heart rate, etc…
How does stress affect your body in the short run?
In the short run, stress can be a good thing. It allows you to take quick action in fearful or dangerous situations and can give you the energy and alertness that is needed to make quick decisions in times of difficulty. Moreover, stress acts as a motivator to perform well under pressure, and meet challenges in critical situations. In other words, stress is the human body’s biological way of providing you the energy and alertness that is needed in certain cases. As a student, short term exam stress can give you the energy you need to intensely study during periods of exam preparation.
How does stress affect your body in the long run?
On the other hand, if you are experiencing stress for a prolonged period of time, it can be extremely harmful to your health. Chronic stress will lead to a very negative and unhealthy lifestyle and will cause emotional and physical ailments to the body. It can cause long-term health issues such as digestive problems, heart diseases, depression, sleep disorders, and a constant state of exhaustion and fatigue.
Thus, if you are feeling as though you are in a constant state of stress, for example, due to the pressures of studying or family matters, then it is important to take action to manage it and seek help. Stress should not be negatively affecting your health or lifestyle. Extreme exam stress can severely affect your health and be counterproductive during your exam preparation, so you must take measures to beat exam stress.