Why you should avoid stress

We all experience stress. It is our body’s natural reaction to everything that is perceived as threatening. For instance, it was once used to escape from predators, and ensure that one doesn’t freeze in dangerous situations. However, today our experience of stress is very different. Instead of being something that only happens when it’s needed, stress occurs almost everyday in most people’s life.

This article will explore what happens in your brain when you are stressed and how you can better cope with it.

What happens in your brain

The stress response is activated by three parts of your body:

  • The hypothalamus;
  • The pituitary;
  • Adrenal glands, situated in your kidneys.

The first thing that happens is that the adrenal glands release adrenaline. As a result, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and circulating fats are higher, increasing the risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.

The stress response also involves one specific hormone also produced by the adrenal glands: cortisol. According to several studies, high levels of cortisol can cause:

  • The death of brain cells;
  • Depression;
  • Anxiety;
  • Change in serotonin levels.

What can you do?

There are several ways to cope with stress. Your response is personal, and some may help you more than others.

Get moving

Physical exercise, whether that be dancing, walking or training at the gym, will help your body fight stress, by releasing hormones that will make you feel good.

Reach out to your family or friends

A good support system is crucial. According to studies, having a good support system decreases your risk of having a mental illness and makes you more resistant to stress. Talking to your loved ones will also help you relieve the pressure and find solutions to the problems that are causing stress in your life.

Deep breathing

Deep breathing was shown to counter the effects of stress on the long term. You will only have to:

  • Close your eyes;
  • Sit up straight;
  • Slowly inhale with your nose;
  • Expand your abdomen;
  • Exhale through your mouth.

Repeating this exercise for 5 minutes will have an immediate effect on how you feel.


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.