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My HealthWhat is Stress?

Posted Oct 2009

What is stress exactly? What is stress response of our body? What is stress response from our mind?


Probably you have heard expression that somebody had one drop too many. It takes some time to fill the glass, drop by drop. During some time, the glass is containing all water that drops in. But eventually the glass becomes full and the last drop will spill the water out of glass, since the capacity of the glass is limited.

The same stands for our personal capacities to cope with pressure and stress that is caused by pressure. We have a certain capacity to absorb pressure, but eventually we may come in situation that our capacity is reached. At that point we may react different than in normal situation. This is happening simply since we had enough stress.

So what is stress exactly? According to Hans Selye the body passes through three stages of coping with pressure. The first stage is the familiar "fight or flight" stage when the body prepares for action. In this stage we are ready to confront situation of pressure from our surrounding. In the second stage the body adapts to the condition of pressure and builds resistance to the influence of pressure. In the third stage, if the duration of the stress is sufficiently long, the body enters a stage of exhaustion. This final stage is the moment when we had a one drop too many.

Richard Lazarus brought a definition that is commonly accepted that says that stress is the feeling or a condition that comes when our personal resources are not greater than the demands all around us. This means that the stress becomes when demand from our surrounding exceeds our personal capacities.

Stress is a very common issue among all individuals. It has been discovered that all people, regardless of age and social status, experience some degree of stress. Children may have stress while playing. Students may have stress before exams. Everybody is having a stress at work, at some degree. Even if somebody is retired, he/she may be under the stress caused by financial uncertainty. When the body and mind is introduced to more stressors than it can handle appropriately, it has a natural tendency to react to the things that it interprets as a direct threat.

Now we can see that the stress is the psychical and physical state caused by exceeding of our personal capacities due to outside factors that are commonly called stressors. Stressors can affect us in different ways.

  • If we receive too much pressure in specific period of time

  • If we are being exposed to particular event that shocks our stress capacity system

  • If we lack of control over events around us

Stress is a very common issue among all individuals. It has been discovered that all people, regardless of age and social status, experience some degree of stress. Children may have stress while playing. Students may have stress before exams. Everybody is having a stress at work, at some degree. Even if somebody is retired, he/she may be under the stress caused by financial uncertainty.



Regardless how different these stressors are, they all occupy our stress capacity. As more stress capacity is occupied we are feeling more stressed. Obviously we must establish anti stress routines that will refresh our stress capacity. This means that we need to find a way to relax in period when we are not exposed to stress to refresh our stress capacity and to "empty the glass". If we manage to refresh from stress we will be more ready to cope with stressors in the incoming period.

On the other side, if we do not fully relax between one stress periods to another, we will be accumulating stress over time. On long run this can cause a serious problems that can reflect through our health, mental capacity, energy level, creativeness, social life, etc. Anti stress program is something that we all need. As the stress influence increases, it is getting too difficult to fully relax just by being not exposed to stress. This means that we need to develop active anti stress program for our self. This program can include sport, massage, sauna, traveling, writing a book, or anything else that makes some activity. It is not important what that activity may be, as long as it suits to your personal preferences and makes you happy. As long as something makes you happy it will help you to improve your stress balance.

 

 

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