The concept of stress


THE CONCEPT OF STRESS  It is universally accepted that optimum levels of stress can act as a  creative, motivational force that can drive people to achieve incredible feats  . Chronic,  problematic or traumatic stress  on the other hand, is  potentially very destructive and can deprive people of physical and mental  health, and at times even of life itself. When stress has become chronic and  problematic, it is known as distress.

What is meant by the term stress?               There are many ways of  defining or explaining stress.  In general  terms, Stress may be defined as the body’s response to situations that pose  demands, constraints or opportunities. Stress refers to the reaction and the  stressor is defined as the stimulus that evokes a stress response.

Why is the issue of stress such an important one?               Stress is not always negative. Indeed some researchers have used the term  ‘positive stress’ to refer to stresses that are generally beneficial. However  severe or chronic stress can result in disease or death. In the world  literature, approximately 80% of all non-trauma deaths are caused by  stress-related illnesses. Below are some of the disorders that are thought to  be stress-related: • High blood pressure • Strokes • Heart attacks • Menstrual problems • Headaches • Musculoskeletal pain • Increased vulnerability to infection and cancer • Memory impairment • Depression • Anxiety • Sexual difficulties               Diabetes mellitus • Peptic ulcer disease

Who experiences stress?               Anyone can be affected by stress, but the extent to which we experience  stress depends on our life-style and is, therefore, largely self-imposed.  Whether you have control over the situation that is causing you stress or not,  you can have control over your reaction to the situation. In other words, you  can control how stressed you become. Are the effects of stress always harmful?               Stressors in our lives are not invariably bad. When the stressor is brief  and not traumatic, our physiological state quickly returns to normal. In many  instances, the normal stress response is the one which makes us perform. In  fact, the absence of stressors in our lives would result in non-achievement.

Positive Stress               As mentioned above, stress can have a  positive effect, spurring  motivation and awareness, providing the stimulation to cope with challenging  situations.               Stress also provides the sense of urgency and alertness needed for survival  when confronting threatening situations. Pressure               Pressure is part and parcel of all work and helps to keep workers and  managers motivated. It is excessive or uncontrolled  pressure which can lead to  stress which undermines performance.               Work is generally good for people if it is well designed, but it can also be  a great source of pressure. Pressure can be positive and a motivating factor,  it can help us achieve our goals and perform better. Stress is a natural  reaction when this pressure becomes excessive.

Clinical symptoms of stress are as follows:    Effect of stress on behaviour

  • find it       hard to sleep
  • change       your eating habits
  • smoke or       drink more
  • avoid       friends and family                 or
  • have       sexual problems

Physical symptoms of stress might include:

  • tiredness
  • indigestion       and nausea
  • headaches
  • aching       muscles                 or
  • palpitations


Mental manifestations

  • be more       indecisive
  • find it       hard to concentrate or focus on task
  • suffer       loss of memory
  • feelings       of inadequacy                 or
  • low self       esteem
  • lack of       confidence
  • poor       self image


Emotional manifestation of stress

  • get       irritable or angry
  • be       anxious
  • feel       numb
  • be       hypersensitive                 or feel drained
  • Person       can become over-excited or talkative.