The Stress Series - The Psychological Component

Posted at 11:41 am on 06/18/2014
 June 18, 2014 9:00am

Good morning,

As I reviewed the post from yesterday I realized that the cascade of events that occur during stressful situations was not clearly explained.  Therefore, I wanted to give you a brief overview before moving on to the proactive management of stress.  Here it is:

  • The stressful situation is evaluated by our perception and memory.
  • The hypothalamus in our brain is activated when it's considered stressful.
  • The fight or flight system is initiated to deal with the stressful situation by engaging the pituitary gland and adrenal medulla.
  • The pituitary then releases a chemical called ACTH which is used to stimulate the adrenal glands to release cortisol.
  • Cortisol enables the body to maintain a steady supply of blood sugar to the body while maintaining a stable blood pressure.  Maintaining a steady blood sugar level allows the body to cope with the stress encountered, and return to a normal state of emotional and physical balance.

The Psychological Component of Stress - It feels like my world is crumbling? 


I'm a firm believer that stories provide the best way to dig deep into a topic, and really understand it from both an emotional and practical point of view.  It provides the opportunity to empathize with the characters in the story, and truly understand the plight presented in the narrative.  With that premise in mind, I would like to share a story of someone who crossed my path at one point to illustrate how stress can and does affect our lives.


A man in his twenties who had just transitioned out of the military into a sales role with a large corporate company.  His new job required extensive travel, and was extremely autonomous.  Once a quarter his boss would visit from another state, but that was all the interaction he had with any team members from his company.

During his military career John worked in a cohesive unit that depended on each other to accomplish tasks and missions.  He was a great performer, and moved up the ranks quickly.  Now he was a civilian with a great job, excellent perks, and the freedom to run his own schedule.  It sounded great, but as the novelty wore off after the first 6 months, year, and at two years John began experiencing increasing anxiety and stress over his dissatisfaction and looming sales quotas.
His demeanor began to change around his close family and friends.  He was irritated when people spoke about how much they loved their work, or were experiencing successes in their lives.  His job seemed like a chain around his neck.  He was losing sleep, gaining weight, becoming more complacent with making sales calls each day, and finally decided to just stay at home.

Over the next few weeks John dodged work, and didn't leave home much.  John didn't know what to do because he felt trapped and ashamed about his feelings and behavior.  He had made the decision to quit and move on, but before that happened another company sales rep reported his actions to John's boss.  It wold finally be over thought John who felt a sense of freedom at thought of being fired.  The following day John called his boss and quit after apologizing for his shameful behavior.  He explained to his boss that he didn't realize his military transition would be so stressful, and said he'd felt paralized for months.  John finally took back control of his life, and stopped the stress that had been destroying his life.

Has stress ever consumed your life, and left you feeling paralyzed and helpless?  Stress can be a powerful and destructive force in lives if it's not managed properly.  The first step is awareness concerning the cause, and the specific ways it manifests in our lives.   Below are some of the most common symptoms people experience when they're burdened by stress:

  • Anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, depression, despair, emotional numbness, loss of control, fear, irritability, resentment, and isolation.

Are you experiencing any of these feelings?  The first step in resolving these feelings is to identify the cause and extent of these type of feelings.  Here is an assessment to increase your awareness concerning the psychological component of stress currently in your life:

This resource is from the website where you can find other resources concerning anxiety, depression, and stress. 

Please seek the help of a professional if you can't manage your stress effectively.  Let me know if you found this helpful.  Thank you for taking the time to visit.  Tomorrow we'll be completing this short series by talking about managing the stress in your life with healthy solutions and strategies.  Take care, and have a good evening.


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