In any area of life, when you have a good definition of something, your understanding of that thing increases considerably. When your understanding increases, your ability to use the information increases.So it is with stress. A good definition of stress would increase your understanding and your ability to handle stress.
Unfortunately, there's plenty of confusion and inadequate definitions of stress floating around in society. Some sources even state that there really isn't one specific definition that everyone agrees upon. Other sources vaguely define stress as some physiological reaction to environmental factors.Neither of these concepts gives us a clear definition that we can understand and use to improve and manage the effects of stress on our mental and physical well-being.There are two related definitions that will give us a clear concept of "stress" and will open the door to better handling. We'll look at the basic definition of stress and the definition of a problem first.The basic definition of "stress" is any opposing reaction or force to your own intention that causes strain or tension.Similarly (but not the same), the definition of a problem is an opposing intention or force of some kind. Problems can be solved. A problem doesn't necessarily cause stress or tension. The main characteristic of a problem that becomes stressful is feeling like we can't do anything about it. Not all problems are stressful when we feel that we can do something about them, no matter how much or how little.So the full definition of stress is "a problem (or set of problems) that we do not feel that we can solve or do something effective to handle." In other words, you could say "I don't feel like I can do anything about this problem" or "I feel stressed" and it would mean the same thing.Take anything in your life that feels stressful to you. Apply this definition to it and see if it fits. Is it something you don't have a real solution for?Let's look at it another way. Do you feel stressed by situations or problems that you have a good solution for? Probably not!Each one of us has our own unique set of problems and our own unique ability to solve them. So the things that may be stressful to one person may not be stressful to another. But this definition of stress allows us to understand and handle stress in an effective way, regardless of the source.Stress can be mental or physical or a combination of both. Most material on the subject of "stress" deals with mental stress. But prolonged physical stress is the main culprit that causes illnesses and disease. And that leads to even more stress, both mental and physical.In my research and personal experience, lack of understanding about how the body works and what it requires to be healthy actually causes physical stress. For example, if you don't know (or have misinformation about) what kinds of food to eat to give your body strength and energy, you'll most likely create physical stress when you don't provide your body with what it needs. The body will be stressed in its effort to survive.You might not be consciously aware of every single thing that is stressful to you at any given moment. But when you start to handle stress more effectively after you understand the definition of stress, your awareness of stress and how to better handle it will improve."Stress" can be handled... Your health, happiness and life truly depend on it!Copyright 2008 B.B. Martin