So, what is stress? Well, the definition is that stress is your response to demands and challenges. This response may be physical or psychological and is nearly always a combination of both. The subtle but crucial thing here is that stress is something we experience due to our own response to things. Stress comes from within us. It is triggered and caused by external things but is created in ourselves. This happens when we do not feel that we can cope or manage a situation; we experience stress when things “get too much” for us. There are many things that cause stress (called “stressors”) but some of the worst include:
- Loss – death of a loved one, divorce or separation, getting fired
- Change – changing jobs, moving house, new baby, new marriage
- Illness – personal or family
- Money worry – indebtedness and other financial concerns
- Conflict – family, social, workplace
You can see that not all of these are “negative” things as such, but the changes involved do create stress for us even so. The other important thing is to understand that stress results when your coping capacity is exceeded – some people have more and others less, coping capacity.
The secret to handling stress lies in building coping capacity (because avoiding stressors is hard or even impossible).