Stress - Introduction

"Stress, like Einstein's theory of relativity, is a scientific concept which has suffered from the mixed blessing of being too well known and too little understood." (Dr Hans Selye)
Stress, or to be more accurate pressure, is an unavoidable part of everyday life, meaning different things to each of us. You only have to pick up a newspaper, read a magazine, watch television, listen to the radio or walk into any High Street bookshop and see the many books written on the subject of stress, to realise that we perceive it to be a big problem. Stress is much more recognized than it used to be, we have become very aware of the potential negative impact of stress on our health. Yet despite all of this information and wealth of knowledge, the subject of stress still remains vague and not very well understood. There are also many myths about stress that are not accurate and this further confuses the subject. Life in the 21st Century is infinitely far more complex than it has ever been. We were never designed to live in this complex, modern world with its many demands on us. We live in a crowded, noisy society that we often refer to as the rat race. Our lives are run by deadlines, the clock, modern technology, mobile phones, pagers, faxes, computers, satellites and a hundred and one other demands and pressures. Life in the 21st Century is infinitely far more complex than it has ever been. We were never designed to live in this complex, modern world with its many demands on us. We live in a crowded, noisy society that we often refer to as the rat race. Our lives are run by deadlines, the clock, modern technology, mobile phones, pagers, faxes, computers, satellites and a hundred and one other demands and pressures. Many of us have too many tasks and too little time. We drive our children through traffic-clogged roads to maybe two or three different schools. We then try to get to work on time, through more congested roads with millions more cars than there used to be, or we deal with delayed trains as some of us may have to commute hundreds of miles to work. While we are at work we have to operate computers, learn newer versions of software, deal with faxes, phones, manage many tasks and people, often without adequate training or support. There are no longer jobs for life and many people are working under temporary or short-term contracts.

has undergone more complex. there is a greater amount of pollution. which is an important buffer of stress. We are often told of the harmful effects of stress on our health and well being. radical change in the span of a few short years than in the whole of human evolution. the 21st Century has: "A lot of stressors that 30. Even our children are not immune from the effects of excessive pressure Dr Lori Buffa. and this is partly why stress is more of a problem today. flood and war beamed directly into the television in our homes. less destructive manner. stress management training is a powerful tool. but we are not powerless in the face of stress. We are less physically active. stress is not a unique problem to the 21st Century. There are many benefits to living in our fast paced. modern industrialized world. Everything is very fast paced. anxiety and depression in urban areas than in rural areas)." However. an American Paediatrician said. using our skills and knowledge of stress to learn how to reduce its impact on our lives. we have higher levels of debt and we no longer have a religious faith to rely on. 40 and even 50 years ago children did not have to deal with. isolated society with lower levels of social support. contrary to popular myth. higher crime rates.Research has shown that today we have fewer friends than we used to and live in a more fragmented. We dont need to return to the stone age to regain our health and its impossible to remove all stress (pressure) from our lives. increased drug and alcohol misuse. human kind has suffered stress since the dawn of human evolution. Modern society however. we see daily the many world tragedies of famine. greater urbanisation (it is known that there is a higher incidence of stress related problems like stress. however the same society has created complex demands on our psychological and physiological health. The level of stimuli they are exposed to is so much higher than it used to be. It is impossible to remove all the pressures from life but we can learn strategies to stop excessive pressure developing into stress Stress versus Pressure "Research has shown that there is a physiological difference . but what we do need to do is learn to deal with it in a more positive. eat poorer diets.

Research by Yerkes and Dodson. . indicates that a small amount of pressure improves our performance." (Professor Cary Cooper. but this stimulation should be called Pressure which is different from stress. A person experiencing stress has higher levels of the various hormones in their blood stream than a person who is merely challenged. The point at which pressure develops into stress can be different in different people. but excess pressure reduces our performance and efficiency. However if pressure is excessive for too long it can develop into stress. It is correct however to say that we do need a certain amount of stimulus to make life interesting and to be at our most efficient. However recent research has indicated that this view of good/bad stress is incorrect and that allstress is bad. who developed the Human Performance Curve. PhD) It used to be thought that there were two types of stress Eustress (good stress) and Distress (bad stress) and that a certain amount of good stress was required to stimulate and challenge us.between stress and pressure.