Skip to content

How Your Body Responds to Stress

When something very stressful happens, your brain uses stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to put your body on high alert.

You breathe harder. Your heart beats faster. Your blood vessels constrict, directing blood to your muscles. Your blood sugar levels go up.

You're getting ready to fight or flee, even if you don't actually have to run or defend yourself.

"Even psychological dangers such as the threat of abandonment or loss of self-esteem produce the same physiological response that real, physical dangers present," Nordal says.

Stress management comes down to noticing when you're stressed and backing down your reaction if there's a healthier way to respond to the situation.