What is “Stress”?

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? Here’s an excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

Stress—What Is It, Really?
A simple way to understand the meaning of stress is to define it as “what you feel when life’s demands exceed your ability to meet those demands.” Every individual, of course, has a different capacity to effectively cope with stress and a different level of functioning when faced with stressful situations. Everyone knows people who function better “under pressure” than others. But even the rare person who has a high tolerance for stress ultimately has a breaking point. Add enough total stress to anyone, and both health and performance inevitably suffer.

To deepen your understanding of stress, it is helpful to recognize the distinctions that many of the top stress researchers in the world use when analyzing this condition. First is the type of stress faced by your cousins in the animal kingdom, which are short-term, temporary, or acute stressors. That sort of stress is distinct from the type of stressors that modern humans routinely face, because our stressors are longer-term, repeated, and chronic. In addition, unlike animals, humans undergo not only physical stress but also psychological and social stress. Certainly, some sources of psychological stress are grounded in reality, such as the pressure you feel to make your monthly rent or mortgage payments. Other psychological stressors emanate from your imagination—for instance, the stressful encounters that you can imagine having with your boss, coworkers, kids, spouse, or others. So not only do you have to cope with real-life stressors, but your large, complex, and supposedly “advanced” brain has also developed the capacity to actually create stressful situations where none previously existed.

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