The old saying, “It’s all in your head,” seems to have more precedence in humans, than any other creature in the animal kingdom.
According to this article on the topic of stress in human beings – humans are so smart, that they actually make themselves sick, simply because we have nothing better to do but worry about whatever is in our heads, invoking natural body responses that become unhealthy in frequent intervals.
Take, for example, the “fight or flight” response. When you are in danger, your body reacts by pushing adrenaline through your system – making you nervous, anxious, or any number of other feelings.
The impending danger forces you to either stay there and fight, or simply run away. Hence, “fight or flight.”
In this manner, the psychological response to danger is a good thing. If humans didn’t have this response mechanism, we’d all be dead. Either that, or extremely dull creatures. Anxiety is good – in the right amounts, and at the right times.
… stress hormones are “brilliantly adapted” to help you survive an unexpected threat. “You mobilize energy in your thigh muscles, you increase your blood pressure and you turn off everything that’s not essential to surviving, such as digestion, growth and reproduction,” he said. “You think more clearly, and certain aspects of learning and memory are enhanced. All of that is spectacularly adapted if you’re dealing with an acute physical stressor–a real one.”
However, sometimes anxiety and other psychological reactions are intentionally invoked, without any presence of danger.
… non-life-threatening stressors, such as constantly worrying about money or pleasing your boss, also trigger the release of adrenalin and other stress hormones, which, over time, can have devastating consequences to your health …
In this manner, we are smart enough to make ourselves sick.
But, at the same time, it’s important to know this can go both ways. Just because we’re intelligent, that doesn’t mean we are doomed. We can channel our intelligence appropriately. We not only have the ability to turn on the stressors in our body, but we can also turn them off – any time we want. Once we come to the understanding that we are in complete control of our lives – this can be a very empowering feeling.
… “the same things that make us smart enough to generate the kind of psychological stress that’s unheard of in other primates can be the same things that can protect us. We are malleable.”