Feeling stressed occurs when you feel that the demands that are being made on you are beyond your ability to cope with them. For example, you may feel that you are under pressure to do something and you fear you may fail. In addition, the more important the outcome, the more stressed you feel.
You can feel stressed either by:
• external situations – children misbehaving, you have too much work to do, you have a deadline to meet; or
• by internal triggers – that is, the way you think about external situations.
Stress can affects you in many ways, including:
• emotionally – where you react with anxiety, depression, tension, anger
• how you think – poor concentration, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, apathy, hopelessness
• how you behave – increased drinking and smoking, insomnia, accident proneness, weight problems, nervousness, gambling etc.
How stressful any specific situation can be is affected by:
• how anxious you feel generally at that time;
• how severely the situation affects you;
• whether you have ever experienced anything similar previously;
• whether you have any control over what is happening
• how long the event affects you
• how important the outcome is to you
• whether you have friends and social support to help you cope.
Stress can cause physical illness
When you feel you are under stress, your body kicks into high gear to deal with the perceived threat. Your heartbeat, breathing rate and blood pressure will all increase. The longer the stressful situation lasts, the greater the demand will be on your body.
The more frequently you are placed under stress, the more often you have to use energy to cope – both mentally and physically. Eventually your body can develop illnesses as a result of this continued stress. These can include cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure, proneness to infection and chronic fatigue.