The Role Stress Plays in People’s Personal Lives


Species often have to live in a hostile environment, and humans are no exception. People have developed instruments to cope with this issue for thousands of years. It has been acknowledged that “stress response is one of nature’s fundamental survival mechanisms” (Dhabhar, 2018, p. 175). Stress is the major trigger of the so-called fight-or-flight reaction when a person needs to fight or try to escape when exposed to danger. This response involves a set of psychological reactions that affect people’s behaviors and can have diverse outcomes, both positive and negative.

Stages of the Stress Response

As far as bodily reactions are concerned, they are explicit and well-known to everyone. The primary goal of this response is to survive, so all the corresponding systems work to ensure survival (Yaribeygi et al., 2017). The first stage of the stress response is alarm or the recognition of stress and mobilization. During this phase, the skin becomes cooler as more blood flows to limbs, brain, eyes, nose, and ears, and less is left for the surface of the body.

Since responding to danger has involved considerable physical activity (fleeing or fighting), body temperature always increases. Hence, sweating became a fundamental response to cool the body down. When under stress, dilated pupils help people to see better and dry mouth is a sign that the digestive system is less active since the associated processes are not necessary at that particular moment. The next stage is the reaction per se, which can be fleeing, fighting, or starting an argument. The return to baseline is the final stage that is associated with calming down. The systems start functioning as usual in an attempt to ensure long-term survival rather than short-term acute response.

Stress Hormones

Three major hormones are associated with stress response: adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. Adrenaline is the hormone produced in the adrenal glands when the nervous system receives a signal about a potential threat (Cacha et al., 2019). Adrenaline is responsible for such immediate reactions as increased heartbeat, faster blood flow and breath, sweating, as well as enhanced attention.

Norepinephrine is the hormone released from the brain and the adrenal glands. Its effects are quite similar to the responses caused by adrenaline (Cacha et al., 2019). The major goal of this hormone is arousal as well. One of the bodily reactions caused by the release of norepinephrine is the shift of blood flow away from the systems and organs that are not critical for acute response (such as skin or stomach).

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is also released from the adrenal glands. In contrast to the two hormones mentioned above, it takes some minutes (rather than seconds) for the effects of this hormone release could be felt. Such areas of the brain as the amygdala and hypothalamus produce the corticotropin-releasing hormone that signals the pituitary gland to send a message to adrenal glands that produce cortisol (Cacha et al., 2019). This hormone is responsible for stabilizing blood pressure and regulating the functioning of the systems that are not principals when responding to an acute threat. These unessential functions (when exposed to danger) include digestion, reproductive drive, or growth.

Biggest Stressors in My Life

Although people have to face numerous stressors each day, these factors tend to have different effects on individuals. The biggest stressor in my life is contact with a dog. Of course, I am most scared when I see a dog with no lead or muzzle, but I do not feel safe even when I see a person holding the lead. The dog breed is quite irrelevant as I believe any dog can cause harm to me as it can pose threats to my health.

Whenever I am exposed to this stressor, my heartbeat increases considerably, I often have headaches, and I have a dry mouth. It is difficult to be sure about the reasons for such reactions, but I believe I could have been scared by a barking or attacking dog in my childhood. My relatives do not remember any of such occasions, but this does not mean my hypothesis is incorrect as they could simply be far from me at that particular moment.

Ways to Minimize or Manage Stress

Stress is a necessary reaction, but it can also cause harm as the functioning of various systems is not normal. Therefore, it is important to develop specific methods to manage stress or at least minimize it. The development of resilience is the most desirable outcome as people learn how to remain calm and control their reactions (Craft et al., 2018). In general, to be more prepared for stress management, people should be physically active, sleep well, reduce the consumption of caffeine, and spend time meditating (Huffman et al., 2017). In the case of the fear of dogs that was mentioned above, a person needs to take deep breaths, walk calmly or stop if necessary, and focus on the certain psychological aspect. For instance, the person should try to explain to themselves that the dog is not attacking or even paying attention to them, so there is nothing to be afraid of.


In conclusion, it is necessary to note that stress is a part of human life that has helped humanity survive. Body responses to stressors ensure the human’s survival in the moment of danger. Individuals’ heartbeat increases, attention enhances, blood flow is shifted, which is critical for the fight-or-flight response. However, people should also be able to manage stress in order to ensure the proper functioning of their bodies when the stressor is not in place. Being physically active and doing some psychological exercises can be instrumental in coping with stress on a daily basis.


Cacha L. A., Poznanski, R. P., Latif, A. Z. A., & Arif, T. M. (2019). Psychophysiology of chronic stress: An example of mind-body interaction. NeuroQuantology, 17(7), 53-63. Web.

Craft, J., Gordon, C., Huether, S. E., McCance, K. L., & Brashers, V. L. (2018). Understanding pathophysiology (3rd ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences.

Dhabhar, F. S. (2018). The short-term stress response – Mother nature’s mechanism for enhancing protection and performance under conditions of threat, challenge, and opportunity. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 49, 175-192. Web.

Huffman, K., Dowdell, K., & Sanderson, C. A. (2017). Psychology in action (12th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.

Yaribeygi, H., Panahi, Y., Sahraei, H., Johnston, T. P., & Sahebkar, A. (2017). The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI Journal, 16, 1057–1072. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "The Role Stress Plays in People’s Personal Lives." September 19, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "The Role Stress Plays in People’s Personal Lives." September 19, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "The Role Stress Plays in People’s Personal Lives." September 19, 2023.