occurs when the pressures upon us exceed our resources to
cope with those pressures.
In everyday life
we are subjected to a wide range of pressures. We also have
a wide range of resources and strategies for coping with
pressure. Sometimes we cope well and don't feel that the
pressure is having any adverse effect upon us. At other
times we have difficulty in dealing with the situation and
that is when we may use the term "stress".
In reality, any
situation that puts us under pressure is technically "stressful".
Stress is not necessarily unpleasant or harmful. When we
are able to cope satisfactorily with the stress and find
it to be positive in its effect, we tend to use other words
- such as "stimulation" or "challenge".
Generally, though, when we speak of "stress" we
mean the reaction we have to those pressures which are harmful,
unpleasant or disabling.
The problem is that
different people find quite different situations and circumstances
to be stressful. At the extremes, a situation which one
person experiences as positive and stimulating will cause
another person acute distress. Persons experiencing other
problems may be more susceptible to stress. And prolonged
or acute exposure to excessive stress can lead to illnesses.