What is Stress

What is stress, how do you identify the warning signs and symptoms, and what can you do to relieve your stress today?

Everyone experiences the symptoms of stress at one time or another which include:

  • sweaty palms
  • butterflies in the stomach
  • racing pulse and pounding heart
  • negative thoughts
  • excess muscle tension.

These are familiar signs of stress.

But it still doesn't explain the question 'what is stress?'


Having an understanding of stress and the warning signs of too much stress can give you the motivation to take control and protect yourself from the effects of stress.

While a little stress in our lives can be good for us.

Feeling overwhelmed and pressured for too long can play a role in depression, anxiety, allergies, cancer, heart disease and other stress related illnesses.

This makes dealing with stress important for you.

What is stress

What is stress and how it affects the body is a common question these days.

Many of us have experienced the feelings of stress, but a definition of stress is more elusive.

Richard Lazarus, the father of modern stress research says that stress is experienced when a person perceives that the:

Do you experience unrelenting workloads, feel overwhelmed by family responsibilities, or have financial concerns and worry about the future?

Whether it is acute stress or chronic stress, you are likely to perceive that the demands of the situation exceed your personal and social resources.

When this happens your stress response is activated!

What is stress: The fight or flight response

what is stress

The stress response is the body's natural fight or flight response.

There are many causes of stress that occur every day....traffic jams....financial worries....

Each time you are stressed your body secretes stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. The effects of cortisol and stress are responsible for several stress-related changes in the body during the fight or flight response.

This fight or flight response improves your focus, speeds up your reaction time, and increases your strength.

You may also notice some typical symptoms of stress such as:

  • increased muscle tension
  • rapid and shallow breathing
  • sweaty palms or a dry mouth

These stress symptoms are your body mobilizing resources to 'fight or flee' from the perceived threat.

The fight or flight response is an adaptive response to stress but many of today’s biggest causes of stress are:

BUT the problem is that the fight or flight response may not be the most effective method of dealing with these types of stress.

What is stress and how does stress affect health

The stress interaction between body and mind is a complex process. The body doesn’t distinguish between a real or perceived threat.

The Upside of a Positive Mental Attitude

You may not be able to do much about some causes of stress.

Unemployment or financial stress can be out of your control. But you can do a lot about how you approach these situations or react to them.

A positive mental attitude has been shown to increase the ability for coping with stress.

Whether your cause of stress is a traffic jam, a sick child, financial worries or a life threatening situation, stress hormones prepare your body for action by increasing heart rate, breathing and muscle tension.

Once the stress passes, this heightened state subsides and the body starts to recuperate...

...BUT what happens if you have a lot of things causing you stress in your everyday life?

The body’s defense system can be constantly activated and you may NOT have a chance to relax, rest and recuperate.

Do you feel fatigued and frazzled when you get home from work?

Are you often stressed throughout the day?

If so, this chronic stress can be unhealthy for you!

You may think that you are adapting to the higher and higher stress levels and think you are doing OK... but you may just be living with an unhealthy amount of stress.

Downloading a stress diary monitoring your stress levels is a good start to developing your stress management.

Through a process known as the general adaptation syndrome, chronic stress can produce wear and tear on the on the body and have a serious impact on your stress health.

Chronic stress can increase the incidence of health problems, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Headaches and migraines

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Obesity

Too much stress for too long results in fatigue, exhaustion, and stress-related illnesses.

Having an understanding of what is stress, and the effects of stress on the mind and body can help to develop a rationale for your stress management.

Whether you are suffering from the emotional effects of stress or the physical effects of stress, your stress management techniques may include:

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