Stress has different definitions, depending on who you ask. It may be described as something that bothers a person, an emphasis on a syllable, an accent on music, etc. For this paper, let’s stick with the definition provided by Pinel. Stress is the physiological response to physical or psychological threat (Pinel, 2008). The stimuli that cause a stress response are called stressors. However, the effects of stress and stressor vary from person to person. A stressful situation to one may not be stressful to another. Also, if both individuals are exposed to the same stressful situation, their level of stress may vary depending on their coping mechanisms. (McEwan, 1994).
Several chemicals in the brain are implicated in stress response. When the body is exposed to stress, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is released by the pituitary glands, which in turn trigger the release of cortisol. Cortisol increases glucose level for more energy and quicker and sharper thinking. It shuts down processes in the body that are not necessary in handling the threat. The sympathetic nervous system also plays a part in stress. Stressors trigger the release of adrenaline and norepinephrine. These two are responsible for increased heart rate, blood pressure, reaction time and energy levels. Basically, these hormones and neurotransmitters prepare the body for survival.
After talking about the “soup” part of stress, let’s now move on the “sparks” of stress. Stress shows electroencephalogram (EEG) frontal asymmetry. EEG shows more left than right frontal EEG activity during exposure to stress (Verona, Sadeh & Curtin, 2009). Beta waves are also associated with stress. To regulate stress, a technique called biofeedback is used. People are connected to a machine or instrument (EEG, for example) that measures heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and muscle tension and then the results are presented back to them. Then, they became aware of the changes in their body using the...