What is stress? This is a common question and one which can be answered in several ways.
You can talk about the actual physical response our body has to specific stimuli and how this can result in feeling stressed when our system is overloaded.
You can talk about all the specific causes of stress and how they make us feel and how we react to them differently as individuals.
We can also talk about all the different symptoms stress can cause and how it can cause us further illness in our lives both physically and mentally.
This can seem overwhelming to some whom while feeling stressed just want a quick answer to help them understand what is going on in their lives.
All these different aspects are discussed in more detail later on in this site. The more we understand what stress is and how it affects us, the better we as individuals will be able to manage it and prevent it from taking over our lives.
To answer the direct questions what is stress here is a brief definition:
Stress is a positive reaction we have as human beings which helps us to survive. It is an automatic response to everyday stimuli which if we were not alert to could cause us harm.
For instance, every time we cross the road we experience a small level of stress. Our body and mind prepare themselves to be alert to all the dangers involved so that we are able to cross safely.
This level of stress is perfectly normal and safe, and indeed helps us to survive. Stress and the way we react to it only becomes a problem when we find ourselves in situations which produce a sustained stress response all the time. This exhausts our systems and this is when illness starts to appear as we can no longer cope with the constant overload of chemical and mental fatigue.
Stress also keeps life interesting, a life where nothing ever happened and we never had to watch out for danger or cope with challenging circumstances would be incredibly boring.
This is why not having enough stimuli in our lives can also become stressful, we become despondent, listless and tired all the time and depression can set in.
So stress occurs when: any individual perceives a situation as being either too taxing or not stimulating enough that it exceeds our ability to cope with it.
To discover more about what stress is and how our bodies react to it, continue reading the related pages in this chapter of our site.