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What is Stress?

Stress is a physiological response to a psychological reaction to a perceived threat!

Historically, an example of a stressor might involve being confronted by a wild animal: this thing could kill me! While this kind of stressor is less likely these days, ask an arachnophobe if it still exists!

A more modern and useful example of a stressor might be getting told you will be required to present a topic at your next office meeting. This is a valid stressor – many people rank fear of public speaking above fear of death! One of the problems we face with modern stressors is that, while they don’t often threaten our lives, our bodies and brains still react as if they do. We perceive a personal and very real threat to our existence that results in a physiological response.

If we can deal with an acute [short term] stressor appropriately, it causes us discomfort/challenge for a period of time and is often resolved. This then makes us more resilient or distress tolerant. If not, we run the risk of that acute stress hanging around and becoming chronic [long term] stress which can be damaging both physically and mentally.

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