Skip to main content

How Your Body Responds To Stress

Many clients identify with the concept of ‘stress’ more readily than ‘threat’ and the The How Your Body Responds To Stress information handout visually describes the most common physiological responses to stress.

The sympathetic nervous system is activated in response to stimuli processed as threatening. It controls ‘fight or flight’ responses which, when activated to a high degree, can result in powerful body sensations. At a lower level of intensity the same physiological system responds to stress. Many clients identify with the concept of ‘stress’ more readily than ‘threat’ and the The How Your Body Responds To Stress information handout visually describes the most common physiological responses to stress. Components of the response about which clinicians will find it helpful to be informed include:

  • Brain response: threats are detected at the level of the amygdala, but the hypothalamus is responsible for activating body systems in response to the stress
  • The hypothalamus releases cortocotrophin-releasing hormone
  • The adrenal glands respond by releasing epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol which have stimulate a number of fur-ther systems with the effect of preparing the body to respond to the stress or threat:
  • Bronchioles dilate facilitating higher oxygen intake
  • Heart rate increases facilitating greater oxygen and glucose transport
  • Blood pressure increases in response to the increase in heart rate
  • Liver converts glycogen to glucose allowing for greater energy expenditure
  • The (non-essential) digestive system is down-regulated to facilitate greater energy expenditure elsewhere

This is a Psychology Tools information handout. Suggested uses include:

  • Client handout – use as a psychoeducation resource
  • Discussion point – use to provoke a discussion and explore client beliefs
  • Therapist learning tool – improve your familiarity with a psychological construct
  • Teaching resource – use as a learning tool during training
  • Sapolsky, R. M. (2004). Why zebras don’t get ulcers. Holt paperbacks.

Download Options

Full pack

Includes:

Description, instructions, references, worksheet, case examples

Quick access

Includes:

Blank worksheet

Languages available

Sign Up To The Free Newsletter

Early access – get informed about the latest resources first

Research summaries – stay informed about developments in therapy research

No spam – newsletters delivered monthly, we won’t share your details with anyone else

Confidence assured – unsubscribe at any time