What Is Stress?

A lot of research has been conducted into stress over the last hundred years. Some of the theories behind it are now settled and accepted; others are still being researched and debated. During this time, there seems to have been something approaching open warfare between competing theories and definitions: Views have been passionately held and aggressively defended.

What complicates this is that intuitively we all feel that we know what stress is, as it is something we have all experienced. A definition should therefore be obviousexcept that it is not.

According to the Encyclopedia of Stress, "stress" is one of the most frequently used but ill-defined words in the English language.

We say we're stressed when we're late for work and when we can't pay our bills. We laugh about the stress of the holidays and cry over the stress of a divorce. Even an ostensibly happy occasion -- such as the birth of a child -- can be stressful.

The encyclopedia defines stress as a "real or interpreted threat to the physiological or psychological integrity of an individual that results in physiological and/or behavioral responses." In other words, stress is any change in your world that evokes some reaction from you. If you're a neatness nut, having 10 people staying in your house for a long weekend could be incredibly stressful; but if you don't mind chaos and clutter, then let the fun begin. If you thrive on to-do lists and deadlines, a week with absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to go could make you crazy; another person might feel positively reborn.

People talk about stress as though it's a bad thing, but stress exists inside us. It's really the interaction between what's in our environment and how we cope and deal with it.

It is not possible to live without any stress. We can, however, learn ways to handle the stress of daily life efficiently, and to manage our reactions to stress and minimize its negative impact.

When stress is part of a natural reaction to challenge or danger, the bodys response is called positive stress. However, when you feel out of control or under intense pressure, you may experience the physical, emotional, or relational symptoms brought on by negative stress. These are the signs of stress that you need to recognize and control.

It is important to remain attentive to negative STRESS SYMPTOMS(primerno link kym sledwa6tata statiq za causes and symptoms) and to learn to identify the situations that evoke them. When these symptoms persist, you are at risk for serious health problems because stress can exhaust your immune system.

According to the American Institute of Stress, up to 90% of all health problems are related to stress. Too much stress can contribute to and agitate many health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression and sleep disorders. Fortunately, recent years have brought increased societal awareness and a greater understanding of factors that limit and relieve stress.