What is Stress?
Stress is one of those things that is hard to define. It may be thought of as how we feel e.g. tense, worried, or when we feel we are working under pressure. Not all “stress” is always a bad thing but it can also be the result of positive events in our lives (e.g., the birth of a child, a new relationship).
Any event that requires us to make changes and put forth effort involves a certain amount of stress. Some events, such as deadlines and competitions, may produce feelings of eagerness and excitement, particularly when we think that we have a chance of succeeding. The arousal you feel when you try and make these changes is considered healthy.
The amount of stress you feel is likely to be influenced by three types of things:
The relationship between arousal stress and performance is shown in the diagram below. While a certain level of stress helps us perform, if we experience too much stress, we begin to suffer. Note that it is not the events themselves that cause the stress, but how a person reacts to them.
__People react very differently when in the same situation, one person may feel a health amount of arousal, while another person may feel “stressed out”.
Arousal and Performance
The Fight-or-Flight Response
Stress is related to a primitive system in our body called “fight-or-flight” response. It is called this because it provides the strength and energy to either fight or run away from danger. The physical changes that occur when this system is activated include the following:
Although this system was adaptive in the past (e.g., to help our ancestors in hunting), it is not always appropriate today. In fact, when this system is turned on for long periods of time it can have harmful effects on the body (e.g., decreased immune function, heart disease).
Common Causes of Stress
Although the physical effects of stress are the same for us as they were for our ancestors, the sources of stress may be different. See the two tables for potential external and internal stressors. Note which ones may be a source of stress for you.
Stress and pain
Stress relief techniques
Strategies and Self-help techniques for Stress
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Content by Jane Morris - connect with me on Google+