Definition of Stress
The first definition of stress given in the very large, but old dictionary I have had since
- "importance or significance given to a matter, ie, to lay stress on the classics."
It isn't until 6th entry under stress that this dictionary gives the description of "emotional or
intellectual strain or tension!"
Wow! Does that say something to us about life in the 60s compared
The google dictionary defines it this way:
- "If you feel under stress, you feel worried because
of difficulties in your life."
Another definition from the National Library of Medicine is:
- "Tension, jitters, apprehension.
Stress can come from any situation that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or anxious. What
is stressful to one person is not necessarily stressful to another."
A good definition of stress is:
- "How the body responds emotionally, physically, and behaviorally
to a stressor (the cause of stress)".
There is no way we can avoid stress. It is a common part of life, and can actually be helpful
at times! Really. Having stress can motivate us:
- to move faster
- to do better
- to finish what
- to meet deadlines
- to be more productive
- to win a game
We might even call that good stress,
actually it is called eustress.
Too much stress, on the other hand can be damaging. If we are unable to avoid the effects of stress it
can set us up for:
- a decline in health
- a lowered immune system
- physical disease
- phychological illnesses
- heart disease
- and even mental illness
Another thing stress can do is cause us to be involved in unhealthy behavior such as:
- alchohol or
- or undereating
Physically, one of the first things that takes place when we feel stress is the release of
hormones associated with the "fight or flight" response. This results in short-term resistance
as a coping mechanism, exhaustion or even irritability. Even ones ability to concentrate may
Such hormones as adrenalin and cortisol are released into the blood stream.
These cause an increase of blood sugar and oxygen levels among other things. There is also
an increase of blood flow produced which can result in an increased alertness and awareness
of everything around you even though confusion may exist.
Because increased blood flow is sent to the the brain and muscles, other systems of the body
such as the immune system, the digestive tract, and body repair processes are suppressed or
Immediate symptoms stress can include:
- accelerated heart rate
- muscle tension
- a dry mouth
- increased perspiration
- hair standing up
So there we have a definition of stress. And what good does it do? A lot of good.
Understanding stress is a good thing. When we know what it is and how it works we can recognize
when we have it and we can do something to resolve it before it gets out of control.
to cope and/or adapt to stress can and will go a long way in keeping us physically and mentally
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