Beat Stress – International Stress Awareness Day – 7 November 2018
20th International Stress Awareness Day to celebrate helping people to beat stress.
Theme this year – Does Hi-Tech Cause Hi-Stress. (1)
This is also the first year for International Stress Awareness Week 5 – 9 November 2018. (2)
The main reasons for stress at work –
Increasing redundancies | relationship conflicts between colleagues | build-up of accidents caused by a worker | problems linked to overall upkeep of organisations’ image (1)
So we have a day to make our world aware of Stress.
However, this year it has turned into a week – is that because Stress has got worse in our lives?
Do we all need to be reminded about what Stress is and how we can ‘beat’ it?
Is ‘beating’ Stress the answer and is it that simple?
How do we ‘beat’ an ill in society called Stress?
Does anyone have the answers and if yes, are they Stress free?
Is there more to learn and understand about what Stress actually is?
Do we really know the harm Stress in our daily life is causing our body?
Depression and work issues are one of the main causes of stress reported to GPs. (1)
WHY are depression and work issues one of the main causes of Stress reported to our doctor?
Have we considered that our lifestyle choices may be why we have work issues in the first place?
Definitions of Stress
Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension.
It can come from any event or thought that makes us feel frustrated, angry or nervous.
Stress is our body’s reaction to a challenge or demand.
In short bursts, stress can be ‘positive’, such as when it helps us avoid danger or meet a deadline.
Stress is caused by an existing stress-causing factor or “stressor”.
Anxiety is a stress that continues after the stressor is gone. (3)
Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry or unease.
It can be a reaction to stress or it can occur in people who are unable to identify significant stressors in their life. (4)
Stress is a normal feeling. (3)
The Health and Safety Executive define stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them”.
This makes an important distinction between pressure, which can be a positive state if managed correctly and stress, which can be detrimental to health. (5)
Oxford Living Dictionaries
Pressure or tension exerted on a material object.
The degree of stress measured in units of force per unit area.
A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
Something that causes a state of strain or tension.
Physiological disturbance or damage caused to an organism by adverse circumstances.
Particular emphasis or importance.
Verb with object
Subject to pressure or tension.
Cause mental or emotional strain or tension in.
Informal no object
Become tense or anxious; worry. (6)
constraining force or influence: such as
a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against or tends to compress or twist another body or body part.
the deformation caused in a body by such a force.
a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.
a state resulting from a stress especially: one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium job-related stress.
archaic: intense effort or exertion. (7)
There has been no definition of stress that everyone accepts.
Therefore, it is difficult to measure stress if there is no agreement on what the definition of stress should be. (8)
We have very different ideas with respect to the definition of stress.
The most common is – physical | mental | emotional | strain or tension
Or a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceived that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise.
Stress for most people tends to focus on the negative feelings and emotions it produces.
Almost every definition of stress discusses certain resultant physical, physiological or biochemical responses that are experienced or observed.
A very comprehensive definition of stress that includes these and more is the biopsychosocial model, which has three components –
External – this is made up of elements in the external environment.
Internal – consists of physiological and biochemical factors in the internal environment or body.
Interaction – represents the cognitive processes that result from the interaction between external and internal components. Some of the physical reactions experienced during stress include –
Hypertension | Headaches | Gastrointestinal | Skin complaints
Any definition of stress that does not include these dangerous physical responses is incomplete.
A definition of stress that does not refer to the role of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis or stimulation of the Sympathetic Nervous System and Adrenaline secretion in the “fight or flight” response should also be considered to be a deficient definition of stress.
Since stress is such a subjective phenomenon that differs for each of us, there really is no satisfactory definition of stress that all scientists agree on. (8)
Hello – is everyone getting this?
Our world has yet to unite and agree on what stress is.
What we can agree on is that we do not have a One-Unified Truth about this word called stress.
So if we consider the above, it is super clear we do not agree with what the definition of stress is.
As we do not all agree and accept what stress is, we are confirming SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT.
How on earth are we going to ever agree on what stress is when we don’t have everyone knowing what it actually is?
The fact we have different ideas with respect to the definition itself confirms we are off track.
Does this tell us why our Stress beating, Stress busting, Stress Solutions are not working?
We all know stress is a feeling and it is our body reacting to something.
In other words, our body is communicating SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT.
If we keep it SIMPLE and join the dots – can Simple Living Global bring a deeper understanding from what has been presented about the word stress?
If we are to be Honest, can any form of stress really be positive if our body changes its natural state in order to meet a deadline?
What if our body is super intelligent and can sense danger well in advance of the actual event, so that we can use our movements to change what could happen?
Anxiety is huge in our world today and so many of us are suffering with this ill and finding ways to cope.
We have a definition above that Anxiety is a stress that continues after the stressor is gone.
So WHY have we got fear, worry or unease in our life that brings rise to Anxiety into our body?
We are told that it can be a reaction to stress – so would it be wise to Question why we have stress in the first place?
If stress alters our natural state, then can this really be defined as ‘normal’ as stated above?
Has the majority of the world got some form of stress and so it becomes the normal?
Back to the definitions above – more questions to consider:
WHY have we got an adverse reaction to excessive pressure?
Is it because our body is not designed to have any force, so it reacts to the harm felt?
If we are going to get Real – can any pressure be a positive state for our body?
If it is, then why do we need to manage it correctly and how are we going to do this?
Could it be possible that any form of stress is detrimental to our health?
Next – the dictionary
We know stress is pressure or tension exerted and that means SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT.
A demand of some kind causes a state of strain or tension on a mental or emotional level.
The very fact that there is a physiological disturbance or damage needs to be noted here.
So then it would then make sense that because there is a change inside our body, it could be a factor for causing dis-ease.
In other words, our body would no longer be at ease – its natural state.
Next – let us continue joining the dots and keep it simple to make some sense.
We know stress does something to our mind, body or both.
It comes from something outside of us, which results in changes inside us.
Our body does not like these changes and so it communicates back to us with physical signs like:
- Our blood pressure goes up
- Our head aches with pain
- We cannot stomach what is going on
- The dis-harmony inside affects our skin
We then get told that any definition of stress if it does not include the above list is incomplete.
What we do know is that each of us has a different response to stress.
What if that response is linked to how we choose to live our life each day?
In other words, our lifestyle choices are behind every movement we make and determines how we will respond or react to life and what it brings every single day?
Stress is a Response
Our response to a stimulus
This theory has been based on the work of physicians Hans Selye and Walter Cannon.
Stress is the non-specific response of the body to any demand.
Hans Selye, Stress in Health & Disease (1976) (9)
Selye discovered the following changes occurred in animals as a result of exposure to ‘threatening type’ stressors:
The cortex –
outer part to suprarenal glands (also known as adrenal glands) grew larger and more active.
The result is an increased release of fatty substances into the blood stream.
Immunity glands – lymph, pituitary, hypothalamus, thymus and spleen shrank in size.
The result is a decrease in immunity to conditions such as Colds and Flu.
Stomach and digestive tract – will develop ulcers.
The result, severe stomach indigestion, poor eating habits and gastro-intestinal problems.
Following a stimulus, there was an immediate REACTION. (9)
The first stage termed the alarm stage, represents a mobilisation of the body’s defensive forces. In other words, the body is preparing for the “fight or flight” syndrome. This involves a number of hormones and chemical excreted at high levels as well as an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration and respiration rate. (8)
Physiological responses show an increase in activity levels.
This immediate (and innate) response, is a programme to resist or respond to danger.
If the stimulus continues then the physiological responses will also continue. (9)
In the second phase known as the stage of resistance, the body becomes adaptive to the challenge and even begins to resist it. The length of this stage of resistance is dependent upon the body’s innate and stored adaptation energy reserves and upon the intensity of the stressor.
Just as any machine wears out, even if it has been properly maintained, so do living organisms that sooner or later become the victim of this constant wear and tear.
The acquired adaptation is lost if the individual is subject to still greater exposure to the stressor. (8)
Continuous (longer-term) exposure to the stimulus leads to signs of Sickness or lowered immunological responses.
These signs include damage to cells, tissues and organs.
Long-term exposure to the stimulus will eventually lead to ‘exhaustion’ and death.
This occurs as a result of ‘adaptive energy’ being exhausted in order to fight the demands of the stimulus.
Each of the above have been described as the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) (9)
- Stage of Alarm (the stimulus and immediate response)
- Stage of Resistance (adaptation as a result of continuous exposure)
- Stage of Exhaustion (depletion of physiological stores)
Note – those who are ‘constantly’ feeling under stress will find that their resistance to new stimuli (‘stressors’) will begin to drop off much quicker towards exhaustion.
Employees under a great deal of stress, including those who feel under pressure will ‘hide’ their stress levels via a number of actions. (9)
We have a theory here being presented which we could dismiss simply because it was tested on animals or we could consider what is being said.
It confirms the immediate reaction inside the body that takes place to a threatening type of stressor. First the alarm goes off and the body immediately goes straight into preparing for fight or flight mode.
If the stimulus continues then the body may resist depending on the intensity of the stressor and energy reserves that it has.
We cannot simply hold ourselves in this state, if the stressor carries on and we will get Sick because this is an un-natural way of living. Our immune system will not be strong and if we carry on like this, then exhaustion will be felt because of the physiological depletion.
What is clear is long-term, stress cannot be sustained by our body as it is not designed to cope in this way where we repeatedly put the body under stress.
There are two broad categories of stressors.
Physiological (or Physical) Stressors
These are stressors that put strain on our body.
E.g. – very hot/cold temperatures, injury, chronic pain or illness.
These are events, situations, individuals, comments or anything we interpret as negative or threatening.
E.g. not able to find a babysitter for a sick child when you cannot take time off work.
Scientists are now proposing that stressors can be further divided into:
These are stressors that everyone exposed to them would interpret as being stressfull.
They are objective stressors that are universal like Earthquakes, Tsunami or 9 11 events.
These stressors only some would interpret as being stressful.
They are subjective stressors that cause different reactions in different people.
E.g. time pressure at work, traffic, paying taxes, exams.
Stress is highly personal, as we have to interpret a situation as stressful.
What stresses one person is different to what stresses others.
Stressors whether Absolute or Relative, cause the release of stress hormones. (10)
So a stressor is something that causes us stress.
How many of us would think that a stressor that could put strain on our body could be something as basic as cold weather outside?
In other words, we are warm inside our body and then when we go outside, we have not put clothes on to hold that internal state, so our body changes. It has a tension, because the warmth needed to continue feeling natural has been changed by something external like the cold weather.
Is this making sense?
Have we considered that a single comment from someone can be a psychological stressor?
How many of us experience these ill feelings and dismiss them in everyday life?
How many of us have been at the receiving end of negative comments online through emails, app messaging, Social Media and everything else we choose to subscribe to?
Are we allowing small stressors to go under the radar everyday and not realise the harm they are causing our body?
Is it the ignored small stuff that adds up and causes us the big stress?
What if we paid attention to the small stressors in daily life – could that help us long-term?
Would our reaction to traffic be different if we were choosing to live our life in the flow zone?
In other words, not getting caught up in what is outside of us because we have made an effort to Commit to Life1 and build a Foundation that truly supports our body, which holds us steady for any traffic jam, exam or unexpected tax bill.
This means our True Health and Well-Being becomes a Priority in life.
And taking FULL Responsibility for the choices we make every single day.
In other words, being accountable for the choices we are making so we end the Blame game.
Could it be possible that when we have the above in place, our stress levels will drop?
Next – we need to bring in a standard of decency and respect in the way we live everyday.
We can no longer go on about this or that causing our stress because we know it is our choices that will make us respond or react, the latter being the harmfull one to our body.
Is this making sense?
Written by Bina Pattel
Stress Consultant – Corporate & Professional Stress Management – Level 3 Distinction
Community Mental Health & Psychiatry – Level 4 Award
Depression Management – Level 3 Distinction
Advanced Psychotherapy – Level 4 Distinction
Advanced Psychology by Examination – Grade B
If you are feeling suicidal, contact your GP for support or the Suicide Helplines.
In a crisis contact your emergency services.
UK – Samaritans available 24 hours
Tel: 116 123
Childline – for children and young people
Tel: 0800 1111
USA – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Check International Association for Suicide Prevention Resources on Crisis Centers
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(2) (2018). International Stress Management Association (ISMAUK ). Retrieved November 3, 2018 from
(3) (2018, October 1). Stress and Your Health. MedlinePlus. Retrieved November 3, 2018 from
(4) (n.d). Stress and Anxiety. Healthline. Retrieved November 3, 2018 from
(5) (n.d). An Example of a Stress Policy. Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from
(6) (n.d). English Oxford Living Dictionaries. Retrieved November 3, 2018 from
(7) (n.d). Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved November 3, 2018 from
(8) (n.d). What is Stress? The American Institute of Stress (AIS). Retrieved November 1, 2018 from
(9) (2016, June). Corporate and Professional Stress Management Diploma Course. Stonebridge Associated Colleges
(10) (n.d). Stressors. Centre for Studies of Human Stress (CSHS). Retrieved October 14, 2018 from