What is stress?

Aila Accad
Aila Accad on behalf of Sigma Nursing
There are two kinds of stress, distress and eustress. Distress is the kind that results in deterioration of your system. Eustress is the kind that supports your life force energy and helps you feel alive and productive.

You need to quickly reduce your Distress so you can enhance your life by releasing the Eustress or energy that supports your passion and goals.

Stanford Medical School and the World Health Organization agree that stress causes 85-95% of all illness and disease. What is stress? On a primitive level, you have protective fight, flight and freeze responses that effectively help you to deal with immediate or perceived threats to survival. When you engage these responses for long periods without rest, the body deteriorates. Chronic stress shuts down the immune system, resulting in chronic illness.

Being on "red alert" for long periods in this high-pressure culture is the norm for most people. So are fatigue, irritability, autoimmune syndromes like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, addictions, obesity and chronic disease.
Stress, as defined from an online medical dictionary, is "an organism's total response to environmental demands or pressures." There is disagreement about how to define this in humans, however. The question is, is stress something that can be evaluated by looking at a physical response (e.g., blood pressure, skin reactions, etc.), or is it an internal/emotion driven reaction to a stressor, or some combination of both.      

When the demands placed on us exceed our perceived ability to cope, we experience stress. Stress is also defined as the thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physiological changes that happen as a result of our response to those demands and perceptions. A whopping 82 percent of women say they have had at least one physical stress symptom in the last month such as a relentless headache, an upset stomach, or tightness in the chest.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

Stress is a psychological and physical response by your body to anything that is perceived as a threat or a challenge. Stress can be caused by either a negative challenge (like a death in the family) or a positive challenge (such as a wedding).
Stress serves a necessary function in life. When you experience stress, your body acts like an alarm system. It makes hormones (such as adrenaline and cortisol) that give you a burst of extra energy. This helps you get through temporary periods of stress until you can relax again. 
However, chronic stress, or feeling “stressed out,” is thought to contribute to health problems like heart disease. It can also make you less likely to maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as eating a nutritious diet and exercising.

Continue Learning about Stress

The Future of America Leaves Many Stressed
The Future of America Leaves Many Stressed
A new poll from the American Psychological Association (APA) reveals that 57 percent of Americans say that politics are a large source of stress. The ...
Read More
10 Healthy Ways to Handle Excess Stress
10 Healthy Ways to Handle Excess Stress10 Healthy Ways to Handle Excess Stress10 Healthy Ways to Handle Excess Stress10 Healthy Ways to Handle Excess Stress
From exercise to meditation, here are 10 ways to manage unchecked stress. We all experience stress from time to time. In fact, about 8 in 10 adults f...
Start Slideshow
What Is a Telomere?
What Is a Telomere?
How Can Drinking Tea Help Relieve Stress?
How Can Drinking Tea Help Relieve Stress?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.