The new stressors

As humanity progressed, built housing that protects us better and developed reliable food systems, the life-threatening events went down a lot. We do not need to run from danger anymore, not from the same as our ancestors did. Now, the threats we face are different – long flights, inflammation from processed foods, high blood sugar, pollution, social interactions, deadlines, stressful work, night shifts, insufficient sleep… the stressors are different, but there are many more of them.

And here is where the problem arises. Perhaps, the rate of our development is much faster than evolution could accommodate, and the GAS response did not evolve with our changing conditions. Regardless of the stressors, the ANS does not discriminate – the road traffic can activate your stress response as much as fleeing danger in the form of a predator did for the hunter-gatherers.

Whereas in older days, the stress was quite sporadic, the cortisol release was not as damaging to people. Most of the time they were spending in rest-and-digest mode, having enough time to recover from stress fully and be alert as much as they need to run next time danger was present. We, nowadays, quite on the contrary, spend most of the time in fight-or-flight, because all these little stressors influence us all in the same way, activating alarm phase even multiple times a day, as opposed to once in a week or even month.

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