According to Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and part of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services defines stress as “an organism's total response to environmental demands or pressures”. While people may experience the feeling of stress differently, it has been proven that everyone, at one time or another, will experience the mental and physical impact of stress first hand. It has been proven that stress in small doses can produce positive effects – pushing individuals to do better, motivating them to do their best, or even allowing them to stay focused and alert. Research also shows that some people cope with stress more effectively than others, but when the levels of stress exceed one’s ability to cop, stress can threaten one’s physical and emotional well-being. It's important to know your limits when it comes to stress, so you can avoid minor and even serious health issues. Understanding what causes stress, the impact it can have on the body and mind, and knowing how to control or even avoid stress can improve the quality of your life.
Even though the term “stress”, as it is used today, was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, defining stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”, today, stress is one of the most common experiences of daily life. Due to the fact that stress has “both physical and psychological” side effects it has attracted serious attention among neuroresearchers. Any situation or pressure that causes stress has been termed as a “stressors” and has been divided into two types – external and internal. According to the Stress-Related Disorders Sourcebook (part of a Health Reference Series) external stressors are defined as “adverse physical conditions (such as pain or hot or cold temperatures) or stressful psychological environments (such as work or abusive relationships)”. According to a 2012 survey (number of participates = 2,020) conducted by the American Psychological Association the four leading causes of external stressors are (in order of percentage): money – 69%, work – 65%, the economy – 61%, and family responsibilities – 51%. It is evident that external stressors are contributed to things that are often out of our control, unlike internal stressors.
Internal stressors, unlike external stressors, typically manifest themselves in one’s mind, and are considered to be self-induced. While internal stressors can also be either physical or psychological, they are typically associated with one’s inability or unwillingness to accept uncertainty, negative self-talk and constant worry about things that may or may not happen. While internal stressors can be controlled by many, researchers from the University of Michigan have proven that individuals that produce lower levels of Neuropeptide Y (NUP) are “less resilient” when faced with internal stressors.
One’s response to stress, whether external or internal, is defined as either acute stress (short-term) or...