According to Psychology Today, “Stress generally refers to two things: the psychological perception of pressure, on the one hand, and the body’s response to it, on the other, which involves multiple systems, from metabolism to muscles to memory.” Stress is a psycho-physical response to stimuli relating to the primitive fight-or-flight responses to the environment. There is something in the individual’s awareness which causes discomfort, worry, fear, or some form of threat (the stressor). The body’s reactions to the stressor is to become more psychologically alert, nervous, impatient, and consciously or unconsciously anticipating the need for some response.
While this sounds unusual, in fact, it is very commonplace. People experience various kids of stress every day, such as bills that are due, social events, interpersonal relationships, and many other aspects of people’s day-to-day lives. Stress is the body’s reaction to some anticipated need for action of some kind (even though, often what exactly that action might be may be uncertain). Any demands for or needs for action, conscious or unconscious, can be the source of stress.
Becoming “stressed out” is a state of mind that is often expressed by people today as there are many elements of our daily lives that can be the source of stress, and when more than one affects us, we seem to feel overwhelmed by all of the stresses being felt–”stressed out.”
The more that you know and understand about stress, the more capable you will be in encountering and dealing with it.
Important things that you need to know about stress:
1) Everyone experiences stress: Although virtually everyone may feel stress as some time or another, the type of stress or the source of the stress may affect how one deals with it. Stress is not necessarily a consistent experience. Stress may come and go as different elements in your environment change. Further, stress often has different levels: The stress that one feels about a lost key is significantly different form the stress that one feels if a family member is terminally ill. Some stress is quickly alleviated, such as you find the key that you forgot you put in a drawer. Other forms of stress are more prolonged, such as that over a sick family member.
Stress does bring with it threats to both mental and physical health.
Examples of stress:
The pressure of school, work, family life, and certain daily activities
Sudden unexpected changes in circumstances in life, being fired, death in the family, divorce, the onset of illness. This is traumatic stress.
Larger-scale non-personal events, such as war and natural disasters. This is traumatic stress.
2. Stress is not necessarily negative:
Stage fright is a form of stress, and it makes one alert and conscious of the fear of failure, so it often improves an actor’s performance. Studying for and taking a “big” test is stressful, but if one reacts positively to the stress and studies hard, the effect will most likely be positive. For people witnessing someone floundering in the water and needing help is stressful, but it can motivate positive action to go to the person’s aid. Stress can often be beneficial.
If you are suffering from some form of stress, be aware that in a number of ways that psychological counseling can help you to cope with it or overcome it altogether.
More points about stress in the next installment.