What is stress?

Stress is the way that we respond to change in our lives. It is the way our bodies react physically, emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally to any change in the status quo. These changes do not have to be only negative things; positive change can also be stressful. Even imagined change can cause stress.

Stress is highly individual. A situation that one person may find stressful may not bother another person. Stress occurs when something happens that we feel imposes a demand on us. When we perceive that we cannot cope or feel inadequate to meet the demand, we begin to feel stress.

Stress is not all bad. We need a certain amount of stress in our lives because it is stimulating and motivating. It gives us the energy to try harder and keeps us alert. When we find ourselves in situations that challenge us too much we react with the "fight or flight" stress response. Stress actually begins in our brains and it is expressed in our body. Once we perceive a stress, our body sends our chemical messengers in the form of stress hormones to help our bodies handle the stress.


Chronic Stress

Stress hormones are important to help us meet the demands of stress occasionally, but if they are repeatedly triggered, disease will occur. Our body does signal us when we are experiencing the effects of chronic stress.

Physical Symptoms

Tension, fatigue, insomnia, muscle aches, digestive upset, appetite change, headaches, restlessness.

Mental Symptoms

Forgetfulness, low productivity, confusion, poor concentration, lethargy, negativity, busy mind.

Emotional Symptoms

Anxiety, mood swings, irritability, depression, resentment, anger, impatience, worrying, feeling pressured.

Social Symtoms

Lashing out, decreased sex drive, lack of intimacy, isolation, intolerance, loneliness, avoiding social situations, alcohol, tobacco, and/or drug use.

Spiritual Symptoms

Apathy, loss of direction, emptiness, loss of life's meaning, unforgiving, no sense of purpose.

Managing Stress

Being able to manage stress is important in order to live healthy, happy, and productive lives.

Negative Coping

Ignoring the problem, withdrawal, procrastination, alcohol/drug use, smoking, overeating, inactivity, being over-committed, buying things you don't need.

Positive Coping

Become aware of your reactions, maintain a healthy balanced diet, exercise regularly, balance work and play, practice relaxation techniques, meditate, develop a support system, pace yourself, simplify your life.

Self Care Techniques

Daily choices to care for oneself helps one's feelings of worth, and increases a sense of wellbeing.

Deep, slow diaphragmatic Breathing
(When you breathe in, your belly goes out. Breathe out, belly goes in.)
Listen to relaxation tapes
Avoid Caffeine
Use positive affirmations
Do something you love
Allow extra time for projects
Leave work at the office
Do not ruminate over the past
Try to live in the present
Take a brisk walk
Hug your pet
Get a massage
Listen to your body's signals
Finish what you start


Anxiety Disorders

Are you an Anger Junkie?

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