Surviving stress

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Surviving stress

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“We cannot possibly avoid stress and stress is not necessarily bad,” said stress expert Bruce McEwen of Rockfeller University.
Hormones secreted when you are under stress heighten your awareness of your environment, improve eyesight and hearing and help muscle movement. We can drive in busy streets without causing accidents thanks to these secretions.
Stress helps us address life’s demands. It is said that those who are successful or hold positions of power have higher levels of stress hormones, such as cortisone, than those with more lowly lots in life.
McEwen said, “Stress protects the body. People under stress are vigilant about their environment and plan to avoid danger. On the other hand, happy, laid-back people are not aware that they are falling into traps.”
Evolutionary psychology assumes people who are more susceptible to stress are people who manage better in the competition for survival, and are thus believed to be our ancestors. In early civilization, people who were insecure, highly suspicious and anticipated the worst were believed to have been naturally stronger.
If so, we must ask: While the living environment was harsh for primitive people,
why do people still have stress in modern society, when lifespan has increased and there is material abundance Is stress a physical reaction to basic insecurity and fear?
It is said that the main reason for more stress in modern society is the media.
Stress researcher Joseph E. LeDoux of New York University said insecurity is due to exaggerated headlines.
“In ancient times, people were stressed by things they encountered personally. It is different nowadays. Everyone knows the atrocities happening in the world and potential dangers. Things to worry about have increased dramatically.”
This is applicable to the situation in South Korea, where people are stressed about mad cow disease. Doesn’t the cause of stress lie in the media’s fueling of
fear over mad cow disease? Wasn’t the mass demonstration held yesterday
triggered by stress over the disease?
The problem is that there are many negative side effects to the stress hormone. It suppresses the body’s immune system, making it easier to catch diseases, and impedes the production of sex hormones.
Isn’t the stress over mad cow disease harming people more than the disease itself?
It is scientifi c commonsense that the risks of mad cow disease are extremely low, but continued stress is the cause of numerous health problems.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Cho Hyun-wook [poemlove@joongang.co.kr]
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