There are two feelings people tend to have about stress. Either they don’t feel they have any stress in their lives or they feel that all stress is bad. Both of these are wrong. Everyone suffers from stress at some point in their lives. Stress is defined as “the body’s response to any demand placed upon it” (University of Minnesota, 1998). Everyone places demands on themselves. Having children, working, owning a home, paying bills, and many more day to day things cause stress, whether we like it or not. But the bonus is that not all stress is bad stress, contrary to popular belief.
According to the book ‘Essentials of Managing Stress’ (Seaward, 2006) here are three types of stress; Eustress, Neustress and Distress. Eustress is what is known as “good” stress. This stress motivates us. We feel a sense of euphoria. Examples of this types of stress are the butterflies in our stomachs when we fall in love and the shaky hands we get when we meet someone famous. Neustress is a neutral type of stress. This is the type of stress we get when something bad happens somewhere else. A good example of this would be when New Orleans was being devastated by hurricane Katrina, or while we all watched television and listened to the radios while the planes crashed on 9/11. This stress is neither good nor bad for the person experiencing it.
The bad stress, the one that can cause disabilities like depression, heart attacks and more, is distress. Distress is the type of stress that we normally refer to as just plain old stress. According to Seaward (2006) distress is broken up into two forms, they are acute and chronic. Acute stress is defined as high intensity stress that subsides quickly, while chronic stress is not as intense but last for a much longer period of time.
There are many sources of stress. According to the book ‘Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers’ (Sapolsky, 2004) these “Stressors” can be environmental, physiological, interpersonal, psychological, organizational, financial and life events. Environmental factors include weather and pollution. Physiological factors include poor nutrition and insomnia. Interpersonal factors include family issues and work conflicts and responsibilities. Psychological factors include our beliefs and worries. Organizational factors include the rules that we must follow. Financial factors include expenses. And life events include death of family and friends, moving, marriage and divorce. With so many things out there to cause stress it is no wonder why everyone feels stress.
Stress doesn’t have to control your life though. You are the one in control. Every person reacts differently to stressors in their lives. It is how we react both mentally and physically that determines what type of stress, whether good or bad, we feel and how fast we recover from it.
Essentials of Managing Stress by B.L. Seaward
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by R.M. Sapolsky