General adaptation syndrome (GAS)

A process that describes how the body responds to stress in three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.

  • Alarm stage: The body’s initial reaction to stress, activating the sympathetic nervous system and releasing stress hormones. Causes physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Resistance stage: The body tries to repair itself after the stressor is gone or cope with the ongoing stress. If the stress is prolonged, the body stays in a state of high alert, affecting various systems and functions.
  • Exhaustion stage: The body’s resources are depleted after chronic stress, leading to physical and mental health problems such as weakened immunity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.

Stressors: Any situation that triggers GAS, whether positive or negative, physical or psychological. Examples include daily stress, life changes, traumatic events, exams, or scary movies. Stress mitigation: Strategies to cope with stress and avoid the consequences of chronic stress. Examples include relaxation techniques, exercise, social support, therapy, and medication.