What is stress?

Stress is the way we react physically, mentally and emotionally to various conditions, demands and changes in our lives. There are work-related and personal stressors.

  • Not all stress is bad. Positive stress can challenge us to act in creative and resourceful ways and optimize performance.
  • When stress becomes so great that it overwhelms us, negative stress sets in. Too much negative stress leads to physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms.

Stress is not an inevitable consequence of an event. It depends on a person’s perceptions of a situation and his or her perceived ability to cope with it.

There is an instinctive automatic reaction to stress — the fight-or-flight response — which releases hormones that cause physiological, biochemical and emotional changes that help us survive an immediate threat. Unfortunately, this mobilization of the body for survival also has negative consequences.

Look for the signs and symptoms of stress and learn how to manage and counteract stress reactions before they take their toll.

Changes in Behaviour

  • Irritability or aggression
  • Indecisiveness
  • Increased absence due to sickness
  • Poor timekeeping
  • Reduced performance, ie. inability to concentrate
  • Overworking or failure to delegate
  • Erosion of self-confidence
  • Relationship problems i.e. becoming withdrawn or argumentative
  • Increase unwillingness to co-operate or accept advice
  • Excessive smoking or drinking
  • Substance abuse

Emotional and Physical Signs and Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Headaches
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Indigestion
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased heart rate
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