A Definition of Stress

We all know what stress feels like, but have you ever taken the time to pin down an exact definition of stress? Stress can be defined in two ways.

One is the physiological response that happens within your body during difficult times. The other is the thing in your life that’s actually causing you to feel stressed.

Let’s take a close look at both of these definitions.

The physical response of stress is essentially your “fight or flight” response put into action. Whenever something causes us to feel stressed, our body kicks into overdrive and automatically responds, creating a stress reaction.

The problem with the body’s stress response is that it can manifest itself through just about every system of the body. Stress can cause pain in any part of the body, especially through unconscious tightening and tension in the muscles.

Stress can cause depression, digestion problems, and insomnia. Chronic stress can also cause heart disease. Obesity can also result from chronic stress if you tend to overeat as a way of coping with your stress.

Overall, stress can cause widespread damage to your body if it goes unchecked for a long period of time. This is why the physiological definition of stress is so important to understand.

There are a few main causes of stress...

Types of Stress

There are four different types of stress, and any of us may be experiencing any or all of these at any time.

The most damaging type of stress is chronic stress. The reason this type of stress is so damaging is that it lasts for a long period of time. There’s really no limit on how long chronic stress can last. The problem with chronic stress is that it has a very long time to affect every single part of your body. A normally healthy person can become rundown and begin suffering from just about every kind of health problem imaginable. Chronic stress has an uncanny ability to destroy our bodies.

Acute stress can be just as damaging as chronic stress, although it lasts much less longer. Acute stress comes on immediately and can drift away pretty quickly, but its intensity is what can cause damage in our bodies. The good news about this type of stress though is that often the health problems that accompany it will ease up or drift away entirely as soon as the stress relents. Another important thing to consider when you’re talking about a definition of stress is distress. This is more of a feeling than any sort of reaction to stress.

Distress is basically the mind’s way of informing the body that something isn’t right. Distress can even be an indicator of a changing routine, so remember that not all distress is bad. Sometimes it’s a sign that things are changing. However, if the distress sticks around for more than a moment, then you may want to evaluate whether the change you made was a good one.

The final type of stress is the only kind that is good all of the time. Eustress prepares your body for something difficult that you’re about to do. It gets the body ready to lift that heavy rock, both figuratively and literally. The reason you’re able to do things you never imagined is because of the eustress you feel going in. Just think of it as a little extra motivation to go the extra mile.

 Read on to discover how to effectively reduce stress...

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