What is Stress? How to use it to your advantage.

Live Well Diary Team
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What is stress - woman

Stress is a part of life. Everyone experiences it. It can be good for you.

Stress, if left unchecked, can have a negative impact on your life.

It can adversely affect our health and overall well-being.

What Is Stress?

The word “stress” defined by Oxford Learners Dictionaries – “pressure or worry caused by problems in somebody’s life or by having too much to do.”[1]

It is a reaction to a threat or challenge. It’s your body’s natural way of protecting you and giving you the energy to fight with or run away from it.

Stress is often associated with pressures at work, but it can also result from problems with family members or friends, lack of financial security, or other factors beyond your control.

It can be good or bad, physical or mental, short-term or long-term – but no matter what type of stress it is, it will impact your health and well-being.

What Exactly Causes Stress?

Many items and reasons can cause stress. It can be from work, family, friends, relationships or money issues. Stress can even come from your health.

The body has a stress response system. This system alerts your brain when something is wrong. This helps you stay safe if you’re in danger or need to respond quickly to a threat (like being attacked).

Physical stressors

Includes illness, injury, and overworking your muscles and other body parts, including overexertion and lack of sleep.

Mental stressors

Includes pressure to perform at work or school and financial problems.

Relationship stressors

  • Conflicts with family members or partners;
  • Problems with children or pets;

Emotional stressors

  • Include the loss of a loved one (as mentioned above);
  • Being bullied or harassed at school or work;
  • Feeling that you aren’t good enough in some way (like your grades, appearance, or performance);
  • Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities like caring for a sick parent who needs constant attention.

Good Stress vs Bad Stress

Good stress challenges you to step outside of your comfort zone and grow. It helps you learn, grow and develop new skills and abilities. It’s the energy and motivation that pushes you to accomplish big goals. You feel excited and energised when you’re in this state because you can achieve something great.

A positive feeling of anticipation helps us do our best work under pressure—which means less time spent procrastinating (which is also stressful).

So by definition, good stress boosts our moods because it reminds us how capable we are of achieving success in all aspects of life.

Bad stress is the stressful situation that overwhelms people, making them unable to cope, leading to anxiety and depression. It’s not necessarily a destructive emotion if it’s fleeting; however, when it becomes chronic, bad stress can lead to serious health problems such as anxiety disorders and depression.

If your stress levels are high, it can damage your health and well-being.

Sometimes bad stress can even lead to depression—especially if it lasts for an extended period.

How to Reduce Stress

  • Meditation is one way to reduce stress. The goal is to focus on breathing and clear your mind of thoughts. You can use guided meditation apps (like Headspace) or audio tracks that play specific meditations for you as you go through the motions.
  • Exercise is one way to reduce stress. When we exercise regularly, our bodies produce endorphins—the “feel-good” hormones—and these improve our moods and help us cope with the challenges of daily life more quickly than those who don’t exercise regularly do; there’s even some evidence that regular exercise may prevent certain psychiatric conditions from developing in the first place!
  • If you’re not into exercise, it’s also possible to reduce stress by doing something else that makes you feel good—like playing with a pet or spending time with friends.
what is stress


Remember: stress is not all bad!

While stress may be a factor in your personal and professional life, you don’t have to let it affect your day-to-day life. By implementing some of the strategies above and developing a plan for handling stress before it takes control, you can ensure that stress is something you can use to your advantage rather than something that pulls you down.


[1] stress_1 noun – Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage notes | Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com (no date). Available at: https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/stress_1?q=stress.

Images Used

Photo by Keenan Constance: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-sitting-on-wooden-planks-2865901/

Photo by energepic.com: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-sitting-in-front-of-macbook-313690/



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