#301 Learn about stress

What with the book launch, planning the new blog and buying an apartment all at the same time, it's no wonder my stress levels have been a bit through the roof lately. And that reminds me of the stress and pain connection, a topic I've been looking forward to discussing in this blog.

It was a big eye opener when I was told a little more about the over-used term "stress". People talk about "positive stress" and "negative stress", and everyone is just sooo stressed all the time... but... what is it, actually?

I talked to a doctor who explained to me that stress is actually just a chemical reaction in the body, a survival mechanism linked to the fight or flight response. When the brain interprets that the body is under attack or in danger (for example if you meet a wild bear in the forest) the endocrine system is activated and produces adrenalin, nor-adrenalin and cortisol.

These hormones have various wonderful effects, including making your heart beat faster and your blood flow thicker (in case the bear bites you, so you don't bleed to death). Blood is diverted from your stomach to your muscles so you can fight the bear or run really fast, the brain's cooling system is lowered so your brain heats up and you can think clearer - that way you're able to analyze the situation and come with a good response. All non-urgent functions, like reproduction and digestion, are put on hold so you can deal with the problem at hand: fighting the bear.

My question is: How does this affect chronic pain?

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