Deadlines and Hungry Lions – Stress and Fear Are Close Cousins

Today, I am going to talk about fear and stress. Although they can be defined differently, the two have many common features. Both are associated with apprehension and hyper-arousal. Fear and stress are both are  thermometers which we use to detect threat or danger. When we think we are facing a threat or dangers, this thought process is translated into our body via neurobiological responses.

So, facing a hungry lion and facing a close deadline with none of the work done are experiences that miles apart, but in the way our bodies respond to them, they are not dissimilar. (That’s not to say, of course, that most of us would not rather face the deadline!)

Fear is an emotion we experience when faced with threat or danger. Stress is the process by which a person adapts to a situation they do not want to be in, or which they are trying to put of or avoid. Given that the neurobiological results of fear and stress are the same, we can see why we  react to them in similar ways, which might be freezing, fleeing, or fighting.

I will be following up soon with some thoughts about what we can can do to cope with  our own instinctive reactions when we are anxious or scared. Understanding our biological changes in such circumstances can really help to get our thoughts and actions under control.

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