What is Stress?

Stress is a part of everyday life and it can come in various forms. But, what is it exactly and how does it happen?

Stress is the body’s reaction to a real threat or a perceived notion of a threat. It may also be defined as a loss of equilibrium or a state in which you feel off balance. Stress is the body’s way of protecting itself. Internally, stress releases hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine. Physical reactions include muscle tension, increased heartbeat, shortness of breath, shakiness and/or nausea.

Stress is individualized, meaning it is different for everyone. What is a stressor to one person may not be a stressor to another. There are also different categories and degrees of stress.  

The following are examples of a few different kinds of stress

  • Routine Stress This is the more common everyday stress. This kind of stress is related to a hectic work schedule, family and relationship problems, finances, etc.   
  • Internal Stress  This is the kind of stress that is perceived. This is when you worry about something that is minor, irrelevant or out of your control. Sometimes thoughts, usually negative, work against us.
  • Survival Stress This type of stress is most often identified as ‘fight or flight’ in a dangerous situation. This is when they say your “adrenaline” is pumping, giving you strength and stamina.
  • Traumatic Stress This is a deep impact stress can be brought on by experiences such a major accident, a natural disaster, war or the death of a loved one.  
  • Life Altering Change This kind of stress may occur alongside a significant change such as, having a baby, being diagnosed with an illness, divorce or losing a job.

It’s natural for us relate to stress in a negative way because it does often have a negative effect, but stress isn’t always a bad thing. Stress also have many positive effects, commonly known as eustress. It can help you stay focused, alert and give you energy. Stress can be used to achieve a goal and motivate productivity. Stress can also save your life: It can give you greater ability to fight for yourself.

However, if stress persists and is not managed it can affect your overall health. Ignoring stress may lead to health problems such as, depression and anxiety, sleep trouble, weight trouble, skin conditions and heart disease, to name a few.

Awareness is key when it comes to managing stress. As you learn what your stress triggers are you can begin to learn how to manage it and what ways work best for you. As mentioned above, stress affects people in different ways.  Therefore, stress is managed in different ways as well.

Keep an eye out for future posts related to stress and stress management. Knowledge is power.