INTRODUCTION Taking a final exam, having a serious accident, giving a formal speech, ending a significant relationship and missing a deadline can all be stressful. But different people have different feelings and reactions in response to the same event, some negative and some positive. Stress refers to the body?s psychological, emotional and physiological responses to any demand that is perceived as threatening to a person?s well-being. These are natural changes that prepare a person to cope with stressors which are threatening environmental conditions, either by confronting them (fight) or by avoiding them (flight).
Think of how you would react to seeing an automobile speeding straight at you as you were crossing an intersection. Your emotional reaction would be fear which would cause you to psychologically experience increased tension, anxiety and alertness brought on by hormones released from the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands. These hormonal changes would then cause physiological increases in your metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension, and pupil dilation to prepare you to cope with the threatening situation.
These same reactions might occur when you are faced with non-physical stressors like giving a speech, making a deadline, or resolving a disagreement, when the threat is to your self-esteem or relationship with others.
The degree of stress experienced depends on several factors. First, the demand must be perceived (people must be aware that it exists) as threatening (having the potential to hurt them if they do not react appropriately). Second, the threat must be to something that is important to people (has the potential to substantially affect their wellbeing). Finally, people experiencing the threatening demand must be uncertain about the outcome (not sure if they can deal with it effectively).
DEFINITIONS STRESS ?Stress is a dynamic condition in which an individual is confronted with an...