What Is a Stressor?
From dealing with traffic to job demands to exposure to toxins, we’re all subjected to situations, people, and environments that cause stress. This is where the term stressor comes from.
At their best, stressors can be beneficial to us, allowing us to survive and thrive in the world. But at their worst, stressors can cause serious physical and mental problems, leading to a deterioration of our health.
Stressors and the stress response
Broadly defined, a stressor is a stimulus that causes stress. A stressor triggers a stress response in the body, which causes a physiological change. This change causes us to either fight or run from the source of the stress.
The fight-or-flight response is a primal mechanism designed for humans to quickly react to life-threatening situations. But this natural response is problematic in our modern environment.
Why is this the case?
The simple answer is that many stressors we come into contact with are not life-threatening. As a result of constant stressors triggering the fight-or-flight response, the nervous system is called on more frequently and thus is more likely to become exhausted from the constant demands.1
For a more detailed answer to this question, let’s take a closer look at the system that controls the fight-or-flight response.
The autonomic nervous system
The stress response begins in an area of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala then sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus, which then communicates to the rest of the body through the autonomic nervous system.
There are two parts of the autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system controls many involuntary functions in the body, including heartbeat, breathing, and blood pressure. A stress signal from the hypothalamus triggers the production of adrenaline via the sympathetic system. As the adrenaline, or epinephrine, circulates, heartbeat, breathing, and other sympathetic functions increase to provides a boost of energy to the body.
After a stressor is dealt with, the other part of the autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, kicks in to calm the body down.
But here’s the thing…
If the brain still perceives that it’s in danger after the epinephrine circulates, the second part of the sympathetic stress response kicks in. It will signal the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands (called the HPA axis) to release hormones that eventually end with the release of cortisol from the adrenals.
This second part of the stress response is what often leads to issues. If you have a hard time managing your stress, the HPA axis is frequently activated. This consistent activation of hormones can then lead to issues like weight gain and other problems associated to chronic stress. Of course, frequent activation of epinephrine can also be damaging, causing issues related to high blood pressure.2
Types of stressors
A stressor can be put into one of two general categories: physiological or psychological. A physiological stressor is a stimulus or event that effects the physical body. Physical pain or discomfort from an injury or illness, for example, can be considered a physiological stressor.
In addition to coming from within the body, a physiological stressor can also originate from the environment. Some examples of physiological stressors in the environment include:
- Loud noises
- Extreme temperatures
A psychological stressor, on the other hand, can be thought of as any kind of stimulus that is perceived as negative. This includes everything from more minor stressors like getting caught in a traffic jam to major life stressors such as the death of a loved one.
While psychological stress often has negative results, it can also be beneficial in moderation. This beneficial stress is known as eustress, and it can be a catalyst that helps us succeed and motivates us to change and grow.
Furthermore, we can also divide stressors into two more broad categories: absolute and relative. Absolute stressors are defined is something that everyone would find stressful in the negative sense of the word. In contrast, relative stress is subjective.3 For example, some people may find public speaking to be extremely stressful, while others see it as not a big deal.
Additional ways we may further categorize stressors include:
- Social stressors – societal and family demands
- Workplace stressors – job demands
- Life changes – divorce, death in the family, etc.
- Daily stress events – traffic, lack of exercise, money, etc.4
Dealing with stressors effectively
While we can try our best to reduce the number of stressors we encounter, stress is something that can’t be completely avoided. But this doesn’t mean we have to be victims of stress. There are several things we can do to manage stressors we are exposed to, as well as those that come from within.
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to deal with stress. Exercise produces endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that promote a positive feeling in the body. Research also shows that as little as 5 minutes of exercise can reduce anxiety. Other related benefits of exercise include improved sleep and improved self-esteem.5
Diet is also key when it comes to managing the stressors in your life. Caffeine, sugar, and alcohol are all substances that are known to increase stress levels, so consider reducing or eliminating these—especially if you have a lot of stress in your life. On the other side, foods such as green leafy vegetables, salmon, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate have beneficial properties that can reduce stress.6 Keeping hydrated with pure water is also important for managing stress.
As important as diet and exercise are in managing stress, your mental and emotional health are also important. Simply telling a trusted friend or family member about your problems can provide stress relief. You may also want to consider visiting a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist for help. Mental health professionals like these can help you identify stressors and show you how to effectively deal with them.
Many people are also turning to meditation to reduce stress. Simply sitting comfortably and being aware of your breathing through meditation can lower the production of stress hormones. And because they combine elements of meditation, breathing, and movement, practices such as qigong, tai chi, and yoga are trending due to their ability to combat stress.
Another key to managing your stress load is simply learning to say no. Often people have too many demands placed on them but are afraid to say no to taking on an additional responsibility. Saying no when you realistically can’t handle something not only helps reduce your stress load, but also helps you develop more self-confidence.7
Managing stressors is one of the primary areas we are concerned with at ZYTO. Our technology uses digital representations of items that can be considered stressors to the body to provide a picture of wellness.
With ZYTO, changes in galvanic skin response are measured as each stressor is introduced. Thousands of these digital signatures are available to scan in the ZYTO software. These include items within the body such as organs, TCM meridians, and vertebrae, and environmental stressors such as the following:
- Lifestyle factors
- Food additives
ZYTO stressors versus common stressors
Although things like traffic, extreme temperatures, and the death of a loved one are considered common stressors, these digital signatures are not necessary to scan with ZYTO. What we’re concerned with is measuring the more concrete effect of stressors such as these. However, this doesn’t mean that correlations can’t be made. For example, if the digital item for the emotion of grief shows up and the person who was scanned recently had a death in the family, you can see how that suggests a strong connection between the stressor and the effect of the stressor.
On the other hand, many things that are considered common stressors can be scanned with ZYTO, as you can observe from the list above. ZYTO technology can reveal which of these stressors showed an abnormal response when scanned, revealing areas that may need additional support. A scan can also determine the degree to which a stressor was out of range. It is this detailed information that allows people to make individualized health choices that can help them better manage stressors.
One part of our biocommunication technology is scanning digital signatures of items that may be considered a stressor to the body. Another equally important part is finding digital signatures of items, services, and lifestyle changes that can bring those abnormal stressors back into range, or back into balance. We call these digital signatures balancers.
A balancing item that brings a particular stressor or multiple stressors back into range may be a supplement, food, wellness service, or lifestyle change, depending on what’s scanned. As with the stressor items, ZYTO measures the changes in galvanic skin response for the digital balancer items scanned. From this data, wellness professionals can make recommendations based on information taken directly from the body.
As mentioned, emotional stressors are also equally as significant as physical stressors. These can be scanned with ZYTO technology as well. And, in addition, they can be effectively addressed with our perception reframing technology.
Want to learn more about how stressor and balancer Virtual Items are used in the ZYTO software? Watch this short video.
1. Neimark, Neil. “What is the fight or flight response?” Dr. Neil – MD. Thebodysoulconnection.com.
2. “Understanding the stress response.” Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School. Health.harvard.edu.
3. “Two Broad Categories of Stressors.” Centre for Studies on Human Stress (CSHS). Humanstress.ca.
4. “Stressor.” Wikpedia. En.wikipedia.org.
5. “Exercise for Stress and Anxiety.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Adaa.org.
6. Tarantino, Olivia. “22 Best and Worst Foods for Stress.” Eat This, Not That! Eatthis.com.
7. “Dealing with Stress – Ten Tips.” Skills You Need. Skillsyouneed.com.