ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Deal With Physiologic Stress

Updated on January 16, 2013

Physiologic stress occurs when our body experiences a negative change due to stress. Depending on how we react to or view the stressor, we may experience long or short-term effects due to the reaction of our nervous, endocrine, and/or immune system. See: How Stress Affects the Immune System.

By adulthood, we usually have built up a tool-set of coping techniques we access to achieve stress management. Sometimes, however, the stressors may exceed the effectiveness of our current set of coping skills. In these cases, it is useful to consider the following stress-reducing methods:

  • Exercise
  • Relaxation
  • Cognitive Therapy

The stress-reducing effects from exercise are powerful.
The stress-reducing effects from exercise are powerful. | Source


  • The Physiological Effects of Exercise include, at minimum, the following: (1) enhanced blood flow to the brain; (2) stimulated autonomic nervous system; and (3) triggered release of a variety of hormones, resulting in a neurophysiological 'high' that serves as an anti-depressant in some and anti-anxiety in others. At minimum, it results in an enhanced sense of well-being.
  • The Psychological Effects of Exercise are commonly seen as similar to activities that offer a change of pace, like reading a book or going to a movie. In addition, however, the increase in perceived level of appearance is shown to reduce stressful anxiety. But, most importantly, as stress can lead to depression (lower levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin), exercise produces effects similar to that of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and other antidepressants.

According to studies, the key factors seem to include exerting yourself, wanting to exercise, and starting slowly, gradually increasing exercise intensity.

Various forms of meditation relieve stress.
Various forms of meditation relieve stress. | Source


Used for thousands of years, relaxation techniques have been found to be effective treatments for stress. Edward Jacobson documented the progressive muscle relaxation technique, with which many of us are familiar today. The technique includes tensing a certain muscle, holding the tension for 10 seconds, and slowly releasing the tension, paying attention to the tension that fades away.

After several weeks of practice, many people can quickly identify a part of the body that is tensing due to stress, and relaxe that body part on the spot.

Researchers (such as Herbert Benson) found that such relaxation techniques result in a lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and lower oxygen consumption.

Deep Breathing and Visualization

Usually, when we're stressed, our breathing is shallow and fast. Interestingly, controlling our physiological response to stress can relieve the stress itself. The basics of this method include the following:

  1. Slow your breathing by taking long, slow breaths from your diaphragm or abdomen, not your chest.
  2. Visualize relaxation entering your body as you inhale and tension leaving your body as you exhale.
  3. Think self-affirming thoughts: "I am safe." "I can handle anything." "I am strong and healthy."

Cognitive Therapies

Cognitive therapy involves examination of how we think about or perceive our stressor and the resultant stress level.

Cognitive therapists have found that with strategies including distraction, calming self-statements, and cognitive restructuring (replacing maladaptive, self-defeating thoughts with healthier adaptive thinking), a sense of personal control and lower stress can be attained.

For example, you may have noticed that if you focus on a negative experience at work, your mood is affected and you may develop a tension headache. The headache further reduces your mood, which makes your thoughts even more pessimistic. This is an example of Cognitive Behavior Stress Management (CBSM) in reverse. With practice, you can identify a stressful event early on and confront it with an effective coping strategy before it becomes overwhelming and induces a negative physiological response.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi Lucyliu12. This is an excellent, well-done hub. Very helpful for counselors and clients. Voted up and useful.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)