Stress! It is highly overrated and misunderstood, especially when there is no such thing as stress, in the way we’ve been conditioned to think of it. You may be surprised to hear me say such a thing, but keep reading.
So what is stress? Prior to the 1920s the word stress meant a physical fight or flight response to a life-threatening situation. The psychological definition of stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change” was introduced in 1936 by scientist Hans Selye (1907- 1982), and since that time stress has increasingly become a routine part of life for millions and millions of individuals.
The word stress has become as common and recognizable as Coke and Xerox. As a society, we experience more stress today than at any other time in history. This increase in stress can be attributed to stress that is primarily psychological rather than physical. Stress in its historical context meant facing the eye of the tiger, literally fearing for our life.
While the contemporary experience of stress varies from person to person, it has grown to include major life situations such as divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure, job loss, illness, trauma, and death of a loved one as well as common all day everyday routines such as paying the bills, pleasing the boss, keeping a relationship partner happy, picking the kids up from school, fighting traffic, and making dinner.
According to the United Nations’ International Labor Organization, occupational stress is a global epidemic. We even have stress rating scales to rate the levels of stress caused by life events. And people around the world experience “bad days” due to stress.
What stresses you? Make a list.