What is Stress?

When you think of stress, do you think of “bad stuff”? Dr. Peter Hanson says that “stress is neutral until it lands on a person.” How you handle stress is a choice you make. You may not be able to control the events and situations that impact you, but you can choose how you respond.

Each person responds differently to any situation. Something that causes stress for one person may not have that affect on someone else. Stress is the way you respond both physically and emotionally to any stimuli. Stress is good. However, when stress begins to cause physical or psychological problems, it becomes “distress”. Distress is associated with 80% of all illnesses being treated today.

Let’s look at both positive and negative stress. Positive stress can be an effective motivator, a driving force. It can help you focus, perform, and get things done. Positive stress is a healthy part of maximizing potential. You may find that you perform well under pressure. A deadline, for example, may be a constructive motivator for you.

Once a particular task, goal, or challenge has been accomplished, it is important to relax, “come down”, and celebrate this achievement. This rise and fall of your stress level is what keeps stress healthy and positive. The relaxation that follows a stressful situation lets both you and your body recuperate, regenerate, and remotivate. Stress can be positive.

Negative Stress:

Stress is considered negative when you stay at the “peak level” and don’t “come down”. If you don’t’ have what I call “an adrenaline dip” where you relax and recuperate, then you run the risk of stress turning into “distress”. Your mind and body cannot stay at this intense level without breaking in some way.

The negative effects of stress may affect a person both physiologically and psychologically.

However, stress can be controlled. You can manage the response you have to stresses in your life so that you thrive from its natural energy.

A Plan of Action for Controlling Stress (rather than letting it control you).

Certainly, life is full of stressful situations. Actually, you move from one stressful situation to another throughout most every day. That’s what life is all about. “You will be impacted by many situations that are stressful, but only you control how you handle those situations”, says, Dr. Peter Hanson.

Are you interested in controlling stress? Are you interested in energizing your life? If so, here’s a simple but proven effective program for you. You can change how you handle stress. You can make it your friend rather than your foe. Change!! Wow!! What a challenging word and a challenging thing to do. The first step of change is awareness: awareness of the need to change or the benefits of change. So, if you want to change how you are handling stress you must establish awareness of what it is that is having either negative physiological or psychological affect on you. That which causes stress for you is termed, “stressor”. Step one of stress control is to identify our “stressors”, those things that cause stress for you.

Exercise: In each of these 3 areas of your life write down the stressors that are having a negative effect on you.

Personal/Family: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Self: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As you identify situations that cause you to feel “stressed out”, pay close attention to your physical and emotional responses. Listen for body signs, such as headache, stomach ache, tensed muscles, clenched jaw, insomnia, etc. Listen for emotional signs of irritability, lack of energy, hot temper, impatience, etc. Identify the stressor. Note physical and emotional responses, and then ask yourself this question, “What am I doing at the present time to cope with this stressor?”

If your answer to that questions is “nothing” or if your answer is “not nearly enough” then keep reading. It’s time to consider some life management techniques. Life Management: Paying close attention to and taking care of both your physical and emotional self are critical for total health and well being. Being “fit” both in mind and body will give you the strength, energy, and fortitude necessary for effective stress control.