Alarm Reaction Stage
The Alarm Reaction stage is when the body sends a signal to the hypothalamus in the brain to trigger the release of glucocorticoids which increase in adrenal and cortisol levels as a fight or flight reaction. This increases the heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar, pulling away resources from the digestive system so that nutrients can be used in the blood.
The Resistance Stage
The next phase in the resistance stage. Modern-day stressors typically drive us to stay in this stage longer than our body was designed to cope with This is when the body tries to normalise and adapt to the situation. The body’s defence system moves resources to heal and return to homeostasis. Hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are reduced but are still kept slightly elevated due to continual stress. Blood pressure and blood sugar remain high and on alert. However, if the stress continues, which is the case with many modern types of stress, the body is weaker and the result can be irritation and lack of concentration. The immune system is depleted over weeks, months and years and the exhaustion stage is entered.
At some point, the body can’t go on and moves into the exhaustion stage. If the body goes into this phase, the stress has been persistent for a long time and the body has failed to cope with the stressor. If the cortisol and adrenalin are depleted, the body goes into exhaustion. The result can be the following:
- decreased stress resistance
- inability to cope
If stress is not managed the immune system is weakened and the body can become susceptible to chronic disease.
This is not just a theory, there are many studies showing a link between stress and disease, specifically, chronic disease and ageing: