Physiological Stress Contact Banner - Click Here

Physiological Stress

Physiological stress happens! It happens thousands of times a day to each one of us.

Stress is a reaction, or a response that occurs naturally in our brain to a real or perceived threat to our body. The stress response happens without thought…


Because the stress response is part of the autonomic nervous system. That is the part of the brain that functions - without thought - to keep us a live...

stress and breathwork

It is just like how the brain tells your body to breathe without you thinking about it throughout the day.

The stress response alerts us when our innate balance has been threatened...real or perceived.

The body is designed to function best while in balance, or while functioning within normal ranges. When people are chronically stressed, they go to the doctor all the time to see if:

• Their blood pressure is within normal limits
• Their heart rate is between normal limits
• Their blood levels are within normal limits, etc.
• If their body is functioning properly overall

There are three main ways to notice how chronic physiological stress is effecting your life.

Physical Stress

Visualize yourself standing with your feet shoulder width apart with your arms outstretched to the sides of your body. This is an image of balance.


Bodies require balance and rest each day in order to function properly.

Now visualize only standing on one leg while your arms are outstretched to the sides of your body. Over time, you would begin to feel how difficult it is to maintain your balance and you would start to wobble or fall over.

This is similar to what happens to the body when we are constantly stressed out, and don’t give your body enough opportunities to rest throughout the day.

That is a major reason why sleep is so important to your over all health and wellbeing. Getting a good night sleep gives your body time to rest and rejuvenate…time to be in balance.

Many of us may first start to notice physiological stress through the physical stress symptoms of:

Chronic headaches
Neck and back pains
Muscle tension
High blood pressure
Elevated heart rate
Sleep deprivation
Can’t get pregnant
Losing or gaining weight

Emotional Stress

In western culture, most people tend to tolerate physical stress symptoms a little better than we do emotional stress. Most of us are not taught much about emotional health. So, we don’t put as much value on our emotional wellbeing as we do our physical health.

It is the cumulative effect of physiological stress that impacts ones ability to cope with emotional stress:
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Feel angry more of the time
  • Moody
  • Irritable
  • Need to cry more often
  • Can’t seem to relax
  • Feel lonely

Cognitive Stress

It is cognitive stress, or our thoughts of uncertainty, that can cause the constant triggering of the stress response.


For instance, if someone were to attack your integrity in some way, your brain will often respond to those words in the same way as if that same person had punched you in the nose.

To the brain, those words would be perceived as a threat to your survival. Because of feeling that threat, the stress response gets triggered and away we go.

Remember that the job of the brain is to help us survive. So, WITH your thoughts, if you are perceiving a situation as threatening, then that thought will be interpreted as needing a reaction to protect you.

One way to become aware of how physiological stress may be negatively impacting your life is to notice how much of the time you:

Are constantly worrying?
Feel a need to judge others more?
Are thinking fear-based thoughts?
Have an increased need to be “right”?

What are your thoughts of uncertainty?
  • Will I be laid off?
  • Will I be able to find a job?
  • Will I have enough money to pay my bills?
  • Will I be able to pay the rent, take care of my family?
  • Will I be healthy again?
  • Will I ever feel like my old self again?
  • When will the next “thing” happen to me?
  • Is my relationship going to last?
  • How will I make it to my doctor appointments?

Control Over Physiological Stress

One of my cardiac rehab clients once told me,

“Overcoming stress feels like being on a treadmill to oblivion”.

Who hasn’t felt that way when coping with stress? Life can be really hard sometimes.

But, you CAN learn how to become more aware of your thoughts. You CAN learn some simple strategies to do when you start to feel your body is getting out of balance physically and emotionally.

And, you CAN learn how to manage your physiological stress while in the midst of your demanding lives and with no one knowing that you are doing anything differently. But, YOU will begin to feel better.

For more information, please see:

Return from Physiological Stress to Main Cause of Stress

Return from Physiological Stress To Coping With Stress Home

Share Your Stress Tips, or Ask Your Question

There is so much to learn and understand about how the stress response works. If you have a question related to the fight or flight response, or the relaxation response, please ask them here.

Enter the Title of Your Stress Tip or Question

Tell Us Your Stress Tip, or Ask Your Stress Question[ ? ]

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

Your Name

(first or full name)

Your Location

(ex. City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

Check box to agree to these submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Parasympathetic response and stress? 
How does the parasympathetic response effect stress?

That's a really good question!

In my years of being a stress coach, for me to be able to …

i start shivring when i met and talk with some one superior  Not rated yet
my body start shivring and my face get red and start forgeting the word which i have to spoken this only happen when i met with some one superior no matter …

i feel better when i pay my bills is it physiological Not rated yet
I feel better when I pay my bills. It is physiological? It's weird. Thanks.

Anne, great question. Yes, it certainly could have a physiological …

walking the balance how do you deal with stress Not rated yet
Walking the balance in life. How do you deal with stress?

Mariann, thank you for this great question. You have identified the most important aspect …

How to change my life by physiological tools Not rated yet
How to change my life by physiological tools?

Anthony, thank you for the question. The best way for how to change your life by using physiological …

Click here to write your own.

Pay it forward!

There a lot of people who have become overwhelmed by stress and how to get rid of it. I can understand this feeling. But it does not mean that good information is NOT out there. It is.

Please help a friend or loved one by sharing this information with them. Email this link to them or submit this page to your Tweet account, or Facebook or your favorite social bookmarking or networking site. Use the links below to pay it forward.

Looking for a specific topic?
Search for it here:

site search by freefind advanced

Stress Tip Of The Day!

Learning how to become aware of the power of your perceptions is the key to your quest of stress management anxiety reduction techniques that will work for you.

- FREE -
Control My Stress
stress management tools!

control my stress logo


“Ms. Churchill is the unique health care worker everyone hopes to encounter, but rarely does. She has an extraordinary gift that allows her to do much more than diagnose and treat.”
Abbie K. – Minneapolis

K., age 45, is a long term chronically PTSD disabled patient. She has had daily headaches for 20 years. Two weeks ago she reported that she had had 4 days of pain free time, and was having the exceedingly odd sensation of "smiling all the time". She and Cathi have made extraordinary fast progress together.
Dr. Cole

I referred C.L., age mid-forties, to see Cathi after a life of suffering the post traumatic stress disorder of parental sexual abuse over many years of her childhood, with major dysfunctions of alcohol and drug abuse, and with the disabling symptoms of migraine that have for more than twenty years become chronic.

She has lived with daily headaches that have not responded to any of the several drugs which have benefited many such suffering patients. She has needed chronic opiate treatment of her chronic pain syndrome.

In the few weeks that Cathi has worked with her, C.L. has begun to experience days without pain, periods of happiness, and a reduction in her opiate dosage requirements that represent a breakthrough in her stalled-out life as a single mom raising a teen-age daughter with only social security income resources.
Dr. Racer

“I first met Cathi Churchill eight years ago when she effectively helped my work unit through the stress of a hospital-wide layoff. I was impressed with her clear-minded approach and willingness to listen.”
Andy R.

N., age 60, is a hard driving attorney twenty year patient of mine who hit the wall with chronic fatigue four years ago, and began to realize she had to learn to rest. She recovered enough to return to her workaholic lifestyle when she was stopped by a herniated cervical disc and resumption of her chronic colitis.

Working with Cathi, she is discovering "the way she does life" and learning to make choices about it. She came in last week, having "danced until dawn". She is learning to dialogue with her body in effective ways.
Dr. Cole

“I stumbled upon Cathi after my recent heart attack that was brought on by stress. I was scared of having another one, and didn’t know what to do. I had lost hope. Working with her has changed my life. I’m so grateful."
Debbie – Canada

M.S., a woman in her late forties with progressively more and more disabling rheumatoid arthritis since childhood, whose most recent problems have arisen over the last two to three years as complications of immunosuppressive therapy for her disease. The complications have been associated with the severely disabling chronic pain of recurrent herpes neuralgia for more than three years, and for the past 15 months, recurrent osteomyelitis in her right lower mandible.

The second, more alarming (even life-threatening) problem has caused months of diagnostic and therapy confusion among her many consultants, three successive resections of the bone over the last six to eight months, and the still ongoing threat of more relapses of the smoldering bone infection and chronic pain only made bearable by chronic, massive doses of opiates.

In the few months since M. began to work with Cathi with several modalities: stress management, therapeutic touch, guided imaging, and others, her life has become more livable, as she has become able to bear the pain and the discouragement of unresolved disease.

She has relied on many of the methods for maintaining hope and getting through overwhelming discouragement by using the inner resources she has learned with Cathi.

My hope as her primary physician, is that Cathi and M. will be able to continue to work together to maintain that inner strength and hope as she faces yet more months of pain, and further repeated surgery.

Thank you for the healing guidance you've been able to give her thus far.
Dr. Racer

“I sought out the help of Cathi during my divorce, and found her to be an insightful and compassionate coach. Her ability to see deep into the heart of an emotionally stressful problem is, I believe, unique and I would highly recommend her service to anyone.”
P.R. – Brooklyn Center

S., age 48, is a Laotian patient of mine with 15 years of chronic abdominal pain. She has had an extensive medical worked up, and nothing ever worked. Cathi saw her over several months.

S. has improved! Cathi established a trusting relationship with her, and helped her to effectively break through her wall of silence and grief about her son's mental illness, and taught her how to "change her thinking".

S. now comes in smiling, notes some unusual continued symptoms, but no longer has chronic abdominal disabling pain.
Dr. Cole

“Control My Stress is so amazing. I want to thank you, again, for such a valuable resource.”

coping with stress logo