Some stress is good, even required to elicit activity. Too much stress is bad leading to feeling overwhelmed. Amy Arnsten, Neurobiology and Psychology Professor at Yale University, calls this the “Goldilocks of the brain.” Stress must be just right to achieve peak performance. This sweet spot is different for everyone, and even different in the same person over time and different based on the task being performed. We find ourselves in the zone when we achieve that perfect amount of stress.
High stress over time can have a debilitating effect on the mind and body. The body reacts to a threatening situation, the flight or fight response. Blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and perspiration all increase. Blood-flow moves toward the extremities and blood becomes stickier. Inflammatory hormones are activated. All these physiological responses are intended to save you. However, when they don’t switch off or if the body is frequently in this stress state, it becomes unhealthy. Chronic stress is a risk factor for several chronic illnesses.