Definitions of Stress

Get the basics about stress, anxiousness and panicky feelings

Definitions of Stress

So what is the definition of stress? I wish I could give you one easy answer but that’s impossible.

The term stress is used to cover many different causes and affects and can be used in many different circumstances such as it could be used to describe negative feelings caused by a situation such as:

  • Being overworked
  • Being in debt
  • Having relationship problem


Understanding the definition of stress and how it can affect you both physically and mentally is your starting point on finding the stress relief that works for you.

The term stress can also be used to describe how someone actually feels or experiences a stressful situation as this can be different from person to person.

This is the whole focus of this website, discovering how YOU react to stress and what techniques are best for YOU.

What is stress: The basic definition of stress

The word stress is used to describe an increase in physical arousal within the body to a particular situation. The body is preparing you to cope with a particular situation, which is essential so that we are able to carry out tasks well.

But it is when this level of arousal carries on for too long or occurs too often, it can affect our autonomic nervous system and this is when it can lead to long term serious illnesses, both physical and mental.

Read more about the answer to the question what is the definition of stress and what is stress anyway.

Types of Stress

The definition of stress also includes knowing what sort of stress you are suffering from. Yes thats right there is more to stress than most people know. Even being stressed isn’t straight forward or simple.

In fact there are three main types of stress:

  • Acute stress – having a rapid onset
  • Episodic Stress – coming one after the other in a series
  • Chronic Stress – continuing for a long period of time

Recognizing you are stressed and what type of stress is in your life is a major step in learning how to manage it. As you can see the definition of stress is not a simple one.

What Has Adrenaline and Cortisol Got To Do With Feeling Stressed?

You may be asking yourself “So what is the point of stress”?

Well as mentioned it helps prepare us to react to certain situations to the best of our ability. Without it we wouldn’t be able to get out of the way of the speeding car or meet the boss’s deadline.

The body uses many hormones to produce this heightened state of arousal but the two main ones are Adrenaline and Cortisol. Adrenaline gives you the boost and energy to react, whilst Cortisol allows you to respond to the situation for as long as the need is there. Both are vital but if continually used to excess (if you experience stressful situations daily), will eventually cause symptoms such as:

  • Exhaustion
  • Frustration
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical pain
  • Loss of memory
  • Anger and aggression

As you can see the definition of stress is not an easy one and involves our most basic natural human physical responses too.

How stress affects health

A little stress in our lives is a good thing, after all a life without a little excitement from time to time would be very dull indeed.

Unfortunately when stress becomes part of your daily existence it is not only unpleasant at the time but can also have some long term damaging affects on your health too.

Here are just a few of the possible ways stress affects health long term:

  • Risk of heart attack increases
  • Existing conditions are made worse such as psoriasis, eczema and Migraines
  • The onset of sleep problems
  • Feelings of sadness and feeling down which in severe cases can lead to sometime trying to end things to escape

We can’t avoid stressful situations most of the time so it is important that we learn how to recognize stress in ourselves and our loved ones and to learn how to cope and manage it in our lives to minimize the ill effects on both our physical and mental health.

So that is roughly the definition of stress but to be honest this is a very simple explanation. So if you want to know more about what stress is, click on the headers on this page and learn more about what stress is, in more detail.

Who gets stressed

I dare say there isn’t one person alive on the planet that has not experienced stress in one form or another. Indeed in today’s hectic world, stressful situations are more common on a daily basis, so basically anyone can be affected by stress.

However studies have shown that there are some members of society who are more prone to stress, for instance:

  • women
  • people between 35 – 45
  • those who are socially deprived.

Personality types and stress

Another aspect in the quest for the definition of stress is our own individual personalities and how they respond to stress differently.

Although anyone can suffer from stress, it is how we as individuals react to it which determines how much ill effect we experience. Put simply some people are just better at coping with stressful situations and these people although may experience the same amount of stress as someone else won’t become anxious or distressed and so are less likely to succumb to stress related illnesses through out their life.

The difference in personality types between those who are prone to stress and those who are less affected are described as Type A and type B personalities.

The type A personality finds many every day situations, big or small, very stressful and lead a very fast and hectic lifestyle. Whilst Type B personalities are more considered and take things more slowly, thus reducing the effects of stressful situations they may encounter.

Do you know what personality type you are?  Try this test to find out.

Anxious feelings and stress – What is the difference?

Basically anxious feelings can be a symptom of stress. You definitely know when you are feeling anxious, your hands may sweat, your breathing may become a little labored, you want to go to the toilet all the time; you may even feel a little dizzy.

In most cases anxious feelings are short lived and once the initial stressful situation has passed, like completion of an exam, will subside quickly. However if anxiety continues for any length of time or is constantly experienced it can become exaggerated and turn into what is know as a panic attack.

Share your stress

The causes of stress and the stress response are very individual but may also have many similarities as well. Share your story about what causes you stress. Send and receive support from the stress relief workshop team and our readers. Chances are someone here can relate to what you are going through.

Coming soon…

More stress definitions:

Stressed people

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Chronic stress

Chronic Stress: Don’t Let Stress Take Over So what do we mean by chronic stress? Chronic is a word used when something is long term or has become a habit which goes un- noticed. So in relation to stress it simply means that it has gone on for a long period of time in...

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Types of stress

Did you know there were different types of stress? Are you thinking I thought stress was stress? It is often thought that there is only one sort of stress, this is the common belief. However this...

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Stress affects health

Stress Affects Health Yes, stress affects health. How does stress affect your overall health? This is not an easy question to answer as there has been much discussion and disagreement over the years from experts as to exactly what diseases etc are directly caused by...

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Personality test

Personality Test Take our quick personality test to see what your personality type is. Based on your personality type you can determine if you are more prone to stress and therefore stress related illnesses. The more you learn about your own stress, the more you will...

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