What is Stress?

"I'm stressed " is perhaps a commonly quoted phrase in our lives. We are stressed about a variety of things such as work, studies or relationships. In fact, the word is frequently being used as a synonym for negative state of being. In medical parlance, stress can be defined as the body's natural response to a demand. The term is a typically used to connote a negative sense created by events that can make a person feel threatened in any way. Stress can be caused by internal and external factors. In most cases, when a person perceives a threat, whether real or imaginary, to his physical, mental, social, psychological or emotional balance, his body exudes a fight or flight response in an instant and automatic manner. This is known as a stress response.

Interestingly, stress is the body's way of protecting us.Stress can be both positive as well as negative. For instance not being able to cope at work, focus, stay energetic or alert may cause negative stress. Alternatively, slamming the brakes to defend yourself and keep an accident at bay may be an example of positive stress. Under negatively stressful conditions, a person tends to become angry, agitated, timid or even stoic. The sad thing is that stress creeps into our mind, body and emotions slowly and with time starts feeling normal. But it hollows us of strength and positivity from within and in extreme cases may also lead to depression.

On the brighter side, as human beings we can control stress in an effective manner and use it to face the numerous challenges that life tosses our way. Quite frankly, without stress, life would be quite dull and boring! Would you be watching television when you should actually be studying for exams? Would you not be on your toes during an office presentation? Would you not focus your attention on winning a video game? All these motivations to achieve a goal are also spurred by stress. However, beyond a point, stress stops being benevolent and starts affecting your health as well as your productivity, mood, outlook on life as well as interpersonal relationships.

Whether stress is positive or negative depends entirely upon you. If you possess the ability to manage stress, you can divert it to increase your productivity and way of life. Stress is nothing but built up tension and therefore, it is best to release it. While exercise and meditation can help you manage stress, other mechanisms such as staying focused, being positive, not taking things too personally, and smiling are also effective ways to manage stress.