Question: Why do people feel stress?


  1. Stress is when we place various parts of our bodies under some kind of pressure. We respond to stress depending on the scenario and the response is usually a chemical reaction that changes behaviour or body function. A sprinter would put their body under stress because they are not getting enough oxygen to their muscles… If an animal is scared, say as if another animal wanted to eat it, then they would respond in 2 ways flight (run) or fight.


  2. Good answer from Mark. In an evolutionary sense I think it is a protective mechanism – helps you prevent or get out of trouble.


  3. Stress can be a short term or a long term condition – as Mark said if you (or an animal) are placed in a dangerous or life threatening situation, this would be stressful. In such situations your fight or flight mechanism is triggered, in order to try and make sure you survive or escape the “threat”.

    People are a little different to most animals because social, but non-dangerous situations can also be stressful. What one person considers stressful may not be stressful to another, examples could include meeting new people, speaking in public, trying a new task, being told off by a parent, friend or teacher, to name a few. As Matthew said they are mechanisms that have evolved to help us avoid or get out of trouble. The kind of situations we find ourselves in today are usually not life threatening, but are a “carry-over” from a time when we were in life-threatening situations on a reasonably regular basis (e.g. hunting or encountering dangerous snake, spider or large predators) which required a quick response.

    Being subjected to a stressful situation raises the level of adrenalin in our body – this really helps us if we want to fight or run away. However some aspects of modern life can cause stress on a very frequent basis e.g. driving in traffic, money worries and high pressure jobs. People are not designed to be under stress for long periods of time and if they are, it can make them exhausted or sick.

    So short term stress may be very helpful even save your life, however long term stress is not good – much better to develop affective methods of relaxing! 😀


  4. Great answers Mark and James!