What Is Stress?

Stress is an unavoidable fact of life. The American Psychological Association (APA) describes stress as “a normal reaction to everyday pressures” that can affect almost every one of the body’s systems and influence a person’s feelings and behaviors. Since stress is a “normal” reaction, it is in fact healthy! However, APA notes that stress can be unhealthy “when it upsets (a person’s) day-to-day functioning.” 

In a 2022 study, the APA found that 27% of adults in America were so stressed most days that they couldn’t function. Some stressors can be addressed directly by the person experiencing them, therefore eliminating the feelings of stress. However, as the 2022 study shows, many of the stressors plaguing Americans were outside of personal control. They include everything from inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic, politics, and racial injustice. 

The World Health Organization explains that stress “prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives.” Those things can be wide-reaching and wide-ranging. For some, a challenge and/or everyday pressure is getting a toddler to put shoes on before leaving the house. For others, it’s navigating an unexpected traffic jam or rerouted bus or subway line on the morning commute. 

Stress also comes in more intense forms. For example, post-traumatic stress (PTS) can occur after someone experiences an event considered to be “traumatic.” However, unlike regular stress, PTS is considered a mental health condition. While it is considered to be a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, the effects of PTS do require medical intervention to properly treat. 

Always remember, stress is a normal part of human life and it’s healthy to experience some level of day-to-day stress. It’s also important to remember that there are ways to address and minimize the effects of heavy stress. Learning how to manage stress and even de-stress are both crucial topics that we’ve already covered in previous blogs. Stress is always going to pop up, but it doesn’t always have to be a hindrance. 

Posted on April 17 2023 in Blog

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