What is Stress?

Stress is like an iceberg. We can see one-eighth of it above, but what about whats below?

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever increasing demands of life. Surveys show that most Americans experience challenges with stress at some point during the year. In looking at the causes of stress, remember that your brain comes hard-wired with an alarm system for your protection. When your brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the "fight-or-flight" response. Once the threat is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal relaxed state. Unfortunately, the nonstop stress of modern life means that your alarm system rarely shuts off.

That's why stress management is so important. Stress management gives you a range of tools to reset your alarm system. Without stress management, all too often your body is always on high alert. Over time, high levels of stress lead to serious health problems. Don't wait until stress has a negative impact on your health, relationships or quality of life. Start practicing a range of stress management techniques today. (from Mayo Clinic)


What causes stress?

Stress is often caused by some type of change. Even positive changes, like marriage or a job promotion, can be stressful. Stress can be shortterm or longterm.

Common Causes of...
...short-term stress ...long-term stress
Too much to do and not much time Lots of little problems in the same day Getting lost Having an argument Illness Divorce or problems in a marriage Death of a loved one Problems at work Money problems Caring for someone who is sick

What are the signs of stress?

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms
Cognitive Symptoms Emotional Symptoms
Memory problems Inability to concentrate Poor judgment Seeing only the negative Anxious or racing thoughts Constant worrying Moodiness Irritability or short temper Agitation, inability to relax Feeling overwhelmed Sense of loneliness and isolation Depression or general unhappiness
Physical Symptoms Behavioral Symptoms
Aches and pains Diarrhea or constipation Nausea, dizziness Chest pain, rapid heartbeat Loss of sex drive Frequent colds Eating more or less Sleeping too much or too little Isolating yourself from others Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Information provided by University of Washington

Work Life Consultant
GVSU Human Resources Phone: (616) 331-2215, Fax: (616) 331-3216

Page last modified April 14, 2017