Definition of Stress


Stress will affect most people in their lifetime. It is said to be the main reason we visit the doctor. But what is the defintion of stress?




This is a basic definition of stress involving examples of how stress exists in our lives. By looking at how we define stress we can then start to relieve stress.

Stress is a reaction which occurs in the body when it comes up against either an unpleasant feeling or a situation that it is not comfortable with.

This reaction can involve a tensing of muscles and a quickening of the heart among other things.

A snowy morning in the Peak District

Stress in the short term

Stress in the short term is actually a healthy emotion.

It can help you to get things done quicker, it can give you extra energy to finish a job before a deadline and it can give you strength when things get difficult.

Stress in the short term helps you to perform.

For example, if we are competing in an athletics event, the adrenaline and ‘stress’ help us to perform to the maximum of our ability.

I remember how nervous and stressed I used to feel before competing in the 100m sprint. I would have butterflies in my stomach and would feel really nervous. I realize now that I was pumping full of adrenaline.

But in the race I always performed better times than when I was training. The stress helped me to perform.

And so this is the same in your life. This stress helps you to focus your energy during these challenging times and heightens your performance.

But you must rest afterward. You must take a break in order to be able to perform again the next day.

Overdosing on Stress

The problem that arises with stress is when the stress continues for a prolonged period of time.

What seems to be happening more and more in this fast paced modern life is that there seems to be no breaks between events. We seem to be running a marathon, all the time.

No wonder we are so tired and worn out! No wonder we get irritated and stressed!

I worked in Africa for a year as a volunteer coordinator. The work was really interesting but also very stressful.

When I first started I spent a lot of time with volunteers.

I lived, worked and socialized with volunteers. My job was my life. Twenty four seven as they say.

After a few months I really started to feel worn out and found that my stress levels were very high. The job was much harder to do.

I realized that I had to have a break or I couldn’t do my job properly.

So I started to go away for long weekends nearly every week. This helped me so much.

My stress levels decreased and my health improved tremendously.

I was then able to give to the volunteers fully while I was with them. But I was also able to give to myself as well.

Too much stress, as I found out can really harm our health and our performance.

What can we do about stress?

So what can we can about this? Well, this is the first step. By recognising the definition of stress, we see how stress occurs in our lives. And it is not always bad.

Now we have identified what is stress, we can now look at what causes stress.

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