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Monday, February 8, 2010

The Positives And Negatives Of Stress

By: Scott Meyers

Stress is a term that is used often to describe a wide range of feelings and emotions. Anxiety, depression, distress, fear, and exhaustion are just some of these and are all feelings that can be described as stress. Stress is something that occurs all the time and affects everyone one way or another at least some of the time. Stress can be a positive thing. It can be a source of motivation to help get something done or help one to react quickly to a potentially dangerous situation. The body reacts to stress by releasing more of the hormones cortisol and epinephrine. This stimulates the sympathetic nervous response or the commonly referred to flight or fight response. In some instances this is useful; however, if prolonged for too long or occurring too often, it can have negative effects on the body.

Stress that enhances physical or mental function, such as a challenging assignment that you need to complete, winning a race, or upcoming family events such as holidays or a major life event that is positive is referred to as eustress. This is helpful and often rewarding stress. Stress caused by adverse events or negative feelings of suffering or feeling like in harms way or under threat of being harmed is called distress. Both positive and negative stressors can lead to stress. These stressors can be physical or psychological. They themselves may not be the exact cause of stress as stress is more of a personal interpretation as far as adaptation resulting from personal experiences and the difference between what one might accept and what is expected. One may have preconceived notions on how things are supposed to be and a variance can cause one stress. Many people often internalize events that occur even if they are not personally affected.

Stress has many contributing factors. Contributors to stress or stressors range from environmental factors like noise and light to world events such as war and natural disasters. Relationship troubles, work and school and lifestyle choices can all lead to stress. Major life events or changes to ones life are the leading causes of stress as they are the most demanding on personal resources. Such changes include marriage or divorce, pregnancy or the death of a loved one, moving to a new location, changing jobs, etc. Stress can result from feelings or thoughts that one has. What one considers stressful, another may not, and this is why stress is highly individual and personal in nature. Everyone has differing opinions, different ideas about the way things are or are supposed to be and various methods of coping.

Stress affects behavior, the mind and body in many different ways both negatively and positively. Symptoms of stress vary from person to person in how they are observed or recognized. While stress can be positive and negative, no matter who you are too much stress can cause harm both emotionally and physically.

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