ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Is Stress And How Does It Affect Us

Updated on July 21, 2008

What Is Stress?

It is difficult to define stress as it means different things to different people but in general stress is any factor that threatens our physical or mental well being. Such factors can be real (financial problems) or imagined (worry about the future).It is not the factor itself that is damaging but the response to it. Some people have very stressful lives but can manage stress so it does not affect them. For others the smallest worry can have damaging consequences.

It is a common feature of modern life. Everyone experiences it and the best way to learn how to protect the body from it is to learn how to manage it. Stress can undermine the state of our physical and emotional well being. Learning how to manage it maintains our good health and vitality.

So many medical conditions are stress related. The increase in stress levels is a major factor responsible for the increase in popularity of holistic therapies. Stress relief and relaxation provided by such treatments can help people to control and manage their own stress.

There is positive and negative stress. Positive stress is necessary for certain people such as sportspeople or actors, it actually helps them perform better as they can concentrate and focus on the moment ahead. Negative stress is totally different and is any factor which causes us to respond by worrying, panicking or losing concentration.

How does stress affect us?

The body, sensing danger, prepares to face it or run away (fight or flight syndrome). Several systems shut down and the body works to conserve energy to enable movement and escape. Adrenaline rushes into the body to warn of impending danger: the heart rate increases, the blood vessels contract increasing blood pressure, the digestive functions shut down and the muscles contract.

If the perceived danger is removed or escaped from, the stress response has achieved its aim and the body relaxes. However, it is not always easy to get away from the cause of the stress. As a result, the body remains tense and cannot relax. It is this unused response mechanism which is so damaging.

Different types of stress

a) Survival stress-When the body reacts to meet the demands of a physically/emotionally threatening situation. The release of adrenaline produces the “fight or flight” response mentioned before. It is a positive reaction in that it enables the body and mind to react quickly and effectively. It is only when the effects of adrenaline are long term that is can lead to negative stress.

b) Internally operated stress -This type is often caused by a view or reaction of a situation rather than the situation itself. Worry and anxiety can lead to negative thoughts and often leads to a feeling that circumstances are out of control. It is the relationship between the personality and the stress. What may be stressful for one person may be exiting for another!

c) Lifestyle/Work-related Stress -Issues related to your life or work such as:

Financial problems, relationship problems, ill health, time pressures or deadlines, having too much or too little to do!

d) Negative stress -The inability to manage long term stress.

How to recognize stress

It’s not easy to recognize stress. In fact, as levels increase the ability to recognize it decreases. However, what we do know is that it manifests itself in different ways.

Short term symptoms include:

• Increased heart beat

• Rapid breathing

• Increased swelling

• Dry mouth

• Frequency of urination

• Feeling of nausea

• Tense muscles

The above symptoms can help us to survive in a threatening situation but they become negative factors when the adrenaline is not put to this use.

Excess adrenaline can lead to:

• Anxiety

• Frustration

• Negative thinking

• Reduction in self-confidence

• Distraction

Difficult situations are then seen as a threat as opposed to a challenge.

Long term complaints can manifest as:

• Back pain

• Headaches

• Aches and pains

• Excessive tiredness

• Digestive problems

• Frequent colds

• Skin eruptions

• Worsening of asthma

Signs and symptoms of stress

a) Changes in behaviour

Being argumentative

Being less friendly

Becoming withdrawn


b) Changes in feelings

Losing your sense of humour

Having a cynical, bitter attitude

Lacking self-esteem

Feeling apathetic

c) Changes in thinking

Poor concentration

Being suspicious

Feeling like leaving a job or relationship

Being rigid in your thinking with resistance to change

d) Physical changes

Feeling tired all the time

Experiencing sleep problems (usually poor sleep)

Aches and pains

Suffering from back ache, headaches or migraines

Suffering from indigestion


Having palpitations

e) Mental changes

Suffering from anxiety or depression

Fearing rejection

f) Cognitive Distortion

People suffering from stress very often view themselves in a different way, for example; Counselling Spain note that:

Jumping to conclusions – even with no proof, stressed individuals may jump to conclusions. They may assume that others see them in a certain way or they anticipate that things will turn out badly and act as if their predictions are fact.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)