April Science Café To Look At The Effect Of Stress On The Human Body



Stress can lead to many adverse health outcomes, including heart disease. In some cases, people’s lives are cut short by stress.

Can anything be done to change the disturbing course of stress-related health issues?

Clayton Hilmert, associate professor of psychology at North Dakota State University, will discuss at the April Science Café research that highlights the many ways stress affects people’s lives and ways in which we can attempt to short circuit some of these effects.

The event, titled “Why stress is bad for our health and what we can do about it,” is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8, at 7 p.m. in Stoker’s Basement, Hotel Donaldson in Fargo. It’s free and open to the public. 

“We are working on finding better ways to deal with threats and challenges than to get stressed, and then figuring out how to teach people to do those things,” Hilmert said. “Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. And doing these things is going to take work.” 

Recent research in behavioral medicine, including work done at NDSU, has uncovered various pathways by which stress affects human health. In tandem with this research, psychologists have been investigating ways to avoid the adverse effects of stress.

Current research is focusing on how training a person to interact with the world in more mindful ways can help stop the impact of stress before it begins.

Hilmert says stressors have evolved over time. The human reaction to stress has not yet caught up with these changes.

Understanding stress, and the toll it takes on the human body, is pivotal to sidestepping the adverse health implications.

“Once upon a time when humans got stressed it was usually because of some immediate threat, like a predator or a competitor or immediate challenge like finding and catching food,” Hilmert said. “In these cases, the stress identified by our minds told our body to get ready to act. The problem is our bodies still respond to stress this way.

“In essence, all of the mobilized energy in our bodies starts burning holes in our infrastructure – our cardiovascular system, immune system and even our brain.”

The bottom line is that stress is dangerous to our health. However, it is controllable as long as we put in work to learn how to conquer it, Hilmert said.

Attendees must be 21 or older or accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information, contact Keri Drinka at keri.drinka@ndsu.edu or 701-231-6131.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.