Stress and its Stages

Stress is defined as “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it”. These demands that cause the body to react and adapt can be positive or negative. 

The body’s biological response to stress occurs in three stages: The alarm reaction (AR) stage, the stage of resistance, and the stage of exhaustion. 

During the alarm reaction stage, the body exerts energy that helps it adapt to the perceived threat. This is known as the fight, flight, or freeze response. 

In the stage of resistance, the body attempts to maintain homeostasis. After prolonged exposure to stress the body begins to break down, this is known as the stage of exhaustion. Depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping can be evident in this last stage. 

Talking with a professional counselor is an effective way of decreasing stress and finding ways of coping.

Coping with Stress

Coping can take many different forms. A person can cope by using a problem-focused or an emotionally-focused approach. 

A problem-focused approach is when the person attempts to change the stressor responsible for the distress. This form of coping is not always an option. 

Emotion-focused coping is used when a person must endure the stressor. This type of coping focuses on changing the emotions associated with the stressor. In other words, if you cannot change the problem, then change how you feel about the problem. 

In therapy, clients learn how to cope with stressors that cannot be directly impacted. A licensed professional can help you learn to manage the stressors and/or the emotions that are causing distress.