Sunday, August 24, 2008

Healthy stress versus Unhealthy stress

Posted by Neill Abayon

We all experience stress differently, so it follows that stress relief may require a different approach for different people. Here's what you need to know about how stress can affect you, and what goes into our stress relief needs:

Not All Stress is Bad
With all the press that stress is getting these days, it’s easy to think of it as something to be categorically avoided and eliminated from life. Interestingly, though, there are different types of stress, and not all are necessarily bad for you—in fact, some stress is not only positive, but vital for healthy functioning. Eustress, for example, is a positive type of stress that leads to feelings of excitement and exhilaration. Without it, life would be extremely dull and depression would be rampant, so relief form all stress isn't the best goal.

Chronic stress, however, results from the body remaining in an almost constant state of reactivity where the fight-or-flight response—the body’s way of gearing up for a showdown or quick getaway—remains triggered continuously. This is the type of stress that makes headlines, and has earned the bad press it’s gotten. Chronic stress can affect your body in many serious ways, such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

What Are Some Common Stress Symptoms?
Because stress can impact your immune system, anything from a cold to a heart attack can be a sign that you need to de-stress. However, there are some common symptoms of stress:

For a more thorough examination of your stress symptoms, along with information targeted toward your specific symptoms, use the Stress Symptom Tool .

Some Types of People Have Greater Needs for Stress Relief
Just as there are different types of stress, there are different types of people, and some are more reactive to stress than others. Because the body’s stress response is triggered by perceived threat (rather than actual threat), and the body’s ability to return to homeostasis, or its normal state, also varies from person to person, with some people calming down immediately and others remaining overstimulated for hours after a stress trigger. Certain personality types also tend to bring on more stress, and respond to stressful situations less effectively, such as perfectionists or those who are 'Type A'. For more information, see these personality features that are more stress-reactive, and see where you fit on the spectrum.

Stress Relief Comes In Several Forms
So all of these variables add complexity to the question of whether an individual is experiencing an unhealthy level of stress or just enjoying an exciting life. Certain lifestyle factors and attitudes can be telling indicators, however. The following tools can help provide you with an assessment of your stress situation as well as resources that are specifically targeted for you.

  • Stress and Health Quiz This test can help you examine different features in your lifestyle to see if your stress level may be unhealthy for you, and provides tools for healthy change and effective stress relief.

  • Stress Symptom Quiz This tool allows you to look at 20 common stress symptoms, see which you may be experiencing, and find resources to fit your situation.

  • Individual Stress Reliever Tool This handy resource supplies you with targeted stress relievers designed to fit best with your personality and lifestyle.


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