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Stress Managementy

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In modern life stress is a common problem. The negative effects of stress affect individuals' health and performance. As a result, individuals have their own stress perceptions and they develop different kinds of strategies in order to manage stressful situations. Therefore, this paper focuses on the stress perception, kind of different stressors, stressful situations, and stress management strategies and keys to healthy living.


Stress is part of life in a fast-paced society. However, contrary to popular belief, stress is not

always bad. We need some stress to stimulate us. A certain level of stress is beneficial. This type of stress is called eustress. It helps us to set and achieve goals as well as perform at a higher level. For example, the demands of an upcoming competition, work project or exam can create stress, which stimulates a person to work harder to win the competition, finish the project on time or do well on the exam.

However, there are times when stress is overwhelming. This type of stress--called distress-- paralyses rather than stimulates. It contributes to decreased health and well-being.

Stress is a fact of everyday life. When people reach out for help, they are often dealing with circumstances, situations, and stressors in their lives that leave them feeling emotionally and physically overwhelmed. Many people feel that they have very little resources or skills to deal with the high levels of stress they are experiencing.

Stress: What is it?

Although we all talk about stress, it often isn't clear what stress is really about. Many people consider stress to be something that happens to them, an event such as an injury or a job loss. Others think that stress is what happens to our body, mind, and behaviour in response to an event (E.g. heart pounding, anxiety, or nail biting). While stress does involve events and our response to then, these are not the most important factors. Our thoughts about the situations in which we find ourselves are the critical factor.

When something happens to us, we automatically evaluate the situation mentally. We decide if it is threatening to us, how we need to deal with the situation, and what skills we can use. If we decide that the demands of the situation outweigh the skills we have, then we label the situation as "stressful" and react with the classic "stress response." If we decide that our coping skills outweigh the demands of the situation, then we don't see it as "stressful."

Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or anxious. Everyone sees situations differently and has different coping skills. For this reason, no two people will respond exactly the same way to a given situation.

Additionally, not all situations that are labelled "stressful" are negative. The birth of a child,

being promoted at work, or moving to a new home may not be perceived as threatening. However, we may feel that situations are "stressful" because we don't feel fully prepared to deal with them.

Stress is a normal part of life. In small quantities, stress is good; it can motivate you and help you become more productive. However, too much stress, or a strong response to stress can be harmful. How we perceive a stress provoking event and how we react to it determines its impact on our health. We may be motivated and invigorated by the events in our lives, or we may see some as "stressful" and respond in a manner that may have a negative effect on our physical, mental, and social well-being. If we always respond in a negative way, our health and happiness may suffer. By understanding ourselves and our reaction to stress-provoking situations, we can learn to handle stress more effectively. In the most accurate meaning, stress management is not about learning how to avoid or escape the pressures and turbulence of modern living; it is about learning to appreciate how the body reacts to these pressures, and about learning how to develop skills which enhance the body's adjustment. To learn stress management is to learn about the mind-body connection and to the degree to which we can control our health in a positive sense.

Stress is a concept that, although it is familiar for all, is understood in different ways. The use of this term in a vague and general form creates this context of different interpretations that sometimes are contradictory. In this context, authors attempt to categorize the different definitions of stress instead of creating a general definition. Barrón López de Roda (1997) considers three kinds of stress definitions:

* Stress as stimulus: stress is defined as any situation that provokes alteration in the homeostatic processes. This definition has been criticized since it does not consider individual differences in response to the same situation. Individuals are not passive and there are many situations that result in changes of the homeostatic processes but they are not stressful, for instance to breath.

* Stress as response: stress is defined in terms of the reactions provoked in the organism. Some authors argue that this kind of definition of stress can be misunderstood since there are both emotional and physical responses that can fit in this definition of stress and they result from non stressful situation, for instance to practice sport.

* Stress as interaction: many authors suggest that stress should be understood as a relationship between individuals and their environment. In this specific relationship, the environment is perceived as threatening by individuals who experience that environmental demands exceed their personal resources.

Hence, the definition of stress is equally applied to a form of stimulus or stressor, a form of bodily reaction or response, and an interaction of all these elements. The definition that views stress as an interaction of elements is the one that comprises the entire dynamic process between individuals and environment. This definition is developed in the transactional model of stress that will be explained as follows.

The Transactional Model of Stress

Stress according to this model is best understood in terms of the individual's cognitive interpretation of potentially stressful events. How events are perceived is more important than the objective events themselves. Stress is neither an environmental stimulus nor a psychological response, but rather a relationship between environmental demands and



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