STRESS AND SIX DEFINITIONS OF STRESS TO GET YOU THINKING
Understanding stress and defining the term stress is not a simple process. As researcher Tom Cox pointed out in 1985: “the concept of ‘stress’ is elusive because it is poorly defined. There is no single agreed definition in existence. It is a concept which is familiar to both layman and professional alike. It is understood by all when used in a general context but by very few when a more precise account is required and this seems to be the central problem”.
SIX SOURCES FOR A STRESS DEFINITION
However, when trying to understand your own stress and develop stress management and stress relief strategies, having a definition of stress can be helpful. To assist with a greater understanding of the term ‘stress’ let us now consider six definitions of stress relating to human functioning from six different dictionary based sources…
DEFINITION OF STRESS ONE – WORRY AND ANXIETY
In this first definition, the Kernerman English Learner’s Dictionary (1986-2008) defines stress as “the worry experienced by a person in particular circumstances, or the state of anxiety caused by this”.
DEFINITION OF STRESS TWO – BODILY OR MENTAL TENSION
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2009) describes stress as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation…and a state resulting from a stress is one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium”.
DEFINITION OF STRESS THREE – STRAIN AND OVERWORK
The Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] (2009) found stress to be “strain felt by somebody: mental, emotional, or physical strain caused, e.g. by anxiety or overwork. It may cause such symptoms as raised blood pressure or depression”.
DEFINITION OF STRESS FOUR – MENTALLY OR EMOTIONALLY DISRUPTIVE
In this fourth definition of the stress term, the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language (2009) defines stress as “a mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health, usually characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability and depression”.
DEFINITION OF STRESS FIVE – THREATENING WELL-BEING
The fifth definition of stress by the Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders (2003) on the other hand, states “stress is a term that refers to the sum of the physical, mental and emotional strains or tensions on a person. Feelings of stress in humans result from interactions between persons and their environment that are perceived as straining or exceeding their adaptive capacities and threatening their well-being. The element of perception indicates that human stress responses reflect differences in personality as well as differences in physical strength or health”.
DEFINITION OF STRESS SIX – EMOTIONAL OR PHYSICAL THREATS
Finally, we turn to Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org) for our sixth categorization and understanding of the stress term as “stress is a biological term which refers to the consequences of the failure of a human or animal to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats to the organism, whether actual or imagined. It is “the autonomic response to environmental stimulus…it includes a state of alarm and adrenaline production, short-term resistance as a coping mechanism, and exhaustion. Common stress symptoms include irritability, muscular tension, inability to concentrate and a variety of physical reactions, such as headaches and elevated heart rate”.
FROM THE GLOBAL ORGANIZATION FOR STRESS
These stress definitions are compiled for you by the Association of the Global Organization for Stress. Sign up as a member. Your free membership includes our complimentary ‘101 Ways to Less Stress’ Guide and regular stress related updates.
Please Note: Stress can result in severe health related issues. This stress related information is provided as guidance only and should not be considered as a form of therapy or professional advice. If expert assistance is needed, then a suitably competent health professional should be consulted in relation to your stress.
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