Stress is a state of tension that is created when a person responds to the demands and pressures that come from school, work, family, and other external sources, as well as those that are internally generated from self-imposed demands, obligations and self-criticisms.
Stress is the physical and mental tension you feel when you are faced with change. It tells you that you are under pressure. Your body has evolved a system that warns and prepares you for change and danger. This is called the fight or flight system. When under stress, the system causes you to be more alert, and it makes the heart beat faster. Your muscles tense; you sweat, but your mouth goes dry. Your stomach or bowels might feel upset; you might have a change in appetite or develop a tension headache or hand tremor. Stress cannot be eliminated but it can be productive if you learn how to handle it effectively.
Stress causes anxiety, which, in small doses, is healthy, because it motivates you to get things done. Stress is both additive and cumulative. It adds up over time until a state of crisis is reached and symptoms appear. A series of little things which make you anxious and nervous, can, over a period of time, be harmful. Stress can make you susceptible to colds, respiratory disorders, and even tooth decay. It can also increase your risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, ulcers, colitis, and cancer. Untreated, these symptoms may lead to physical illness and sometimes death.
Last Updated: 10/2/08