The Stress Response- What Dads Need to Know


Dads need to be aware of the affect stress has on the body and mind as well as the stress response. The body’s response to stress is the same regardless of whether the stressor is physiological or psychological, positive or negative. The physical response to a stressor is described by the general adaptation syndrome model and includes three stages: alarm reaction, resistance, and exhaustion.

The alarm reaction stage is also known as the flight or flight response. In this stage, the body is immediately preparing for activity. The stress response during this stage includes secretion of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), corticoids, and epinephrine, which cause decreases in; digestive activity, salivation, peripheral vision, and increased; heart rate, respiratory rate, metabolic rate, oxygen utilization, body temperature, perspiration, cardiac function and blood flow to muscles, causing muscle tension.

Many of these physiological effects of the stress response may, in fact, be beneficial if handled correctly. On the other hand, some won’t be. Muscle tightness and decreased vision may not only be detrimental to your health, but may also lead to a physical injury. Effective stress management techniques should be targeted to control the stress response to keep the positive effects and remove the negative.

The resistance stage reflects the body’s attempt to maintain homeostasis.

An individual’s success in the resistance stage is a direct result to how effective his or her coping mechanisms are. Coping mechanisms include, but are not limited to, social support, hardiness, anxiety level, and locus of control.

If during the resistance stage one is able to control his or her stress response, he or she can experience the positive effects without the negative. For example, if they allow themselves to reach some level of muscle readiness without it becoming muscle tension, the stress they feel before a situation can be beneficial.

An individual under chronic negative life stress may be at risk of entering the exhaustion stage. This stage is reached when an individual is unable to cope with the stressors in his or her life. The person may experience ulcers, psychological breakdown, damage to specific organs and body systems, and in extreme situations, death. Recognizing stress well before it gets to this level is a must. Effectively using tools to manage stress and relying on coping mechanisms can keep an individual from reaching the exhaustion stage.

Stress Reducers:

    1. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don’t limp the hard things together.
    2. Take one day at a time.
    3. Separate worries from concerns. If you can’t do anything about a situation, forget it.
    4. Live within your budget.
    5. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra phone charger.
    6. K.M.S (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.
    7. Do something fun for the kid inside everyday.
    8. Exercise 20 minutes daily
    9. Eat a healthy well balanced diet
    10. Get organized so everything has its place.
    11. Listen to a self help book while driving that can help improve your quality of life.
    12. Write thoughts and inspirations down.
    13. Everyday, find time to be alone.
    14. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don’t wait until its time to go to bed.
    15. Laugh
    16. Laugh some more!
    17. Take your work seriously, but yourself, not at all.
    18. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).
    19. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).
    20. Sit on your ego.
    21. Talk less; listen more
    22. Try an audiobook (
    23. Remind yourself you are not the general manager of the universe.
    24. Every night before bed, think of one thing you’re grateful for.
    25. Go to bed on time.
    26. Get up on time so you can start your day not rushed.
    27. Say No, to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule.
    28. Delegate tasks to capable others.
    29. Unclutter your life.
    30. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)
    31. Allow extra time to do things and get to places.
    32. Meditate.

These are just a few examples of how to handle stress or at least limit the stress response when it happens. Being a parent is stressful, no doubt, but handling it without causing long term damage is more then manageable.