Accidents at work can be frightening and dangerous, but knowing how your body reacts to stress will help you stay calm and take action as needed. While chronic stress can be damaging, temporary stress can help you survive dangerous situations and solve problems, especially if you encounter an emergency at work.

When your body perceives danger or stress it reacts with what is commonly called a fight or flight response. Increased production of hormones like epinephrine and cortisol change the way your body behaves. Here are four things your body does when you are stressed.

1. Extra Glucose is Released

Your body uses sugar as fuel, so in times of stress, cortisol tells your body to release extra sugars and fats for your body to use. If you need to move quickly to dodge a falling object or use every ounce of strength you have to lift a heavy beam off of a coworker, you will need all the extra energy you can access.

2. Heart Rate Increases

An increased heart rate helps circulate the extra sugar so it can get to the parts of the body that need it most. When your heart rate increases, your blood pressure also rises. If you feel your heart racing when you encounter an accident at work, don’t panic. It is a normal reaction.

3. Breathing Becomes Rapid and Airways in Lungs Widen

Along with sugar, your body also needs oxygen to react in dangerous situations. When you are stressed your breathing speeds up and the airways in your lungs widen so you can take in more oxygen.

4. The Immune System Shuts Down

The immune system requires a lot of energy to do its job, so in extremely stressful situations, it shuts down so your body can use that much needed energy to survive. Fighting off a cold is not a top priority if your arm has been sliced open.

These reactions all help you survive in short term dangerous situations. Because of these reactions, your thoughts become sharper, your pupils let in more light to improve vision, and your pain receptors shut down. This means that your body is ready to take whatever action is needed.

According to 911 Industrial Inc., pre-hospital care at the site of the emergency “helps reduce response time, loss of life, and severity of injuries.” While professionals who specialize in industrial safety services are best equipped to handle safety emergencies at work, you can take advantage of your body’s natural reactions to act quickly in emergencies before the professionals arrive.

If a co-worker is in trouble, take advantage of your increased energy and sharper thoughts to seek out help and make quick decisions. If you’ve been injured, try not to panic and remember that your body’s natural reactions are working toward minimizing the damage.

Author Byline

Michael David is a blogger who loves learning new things about science and health.