Stress is how your body responds to pressures or demands, and involves a perception that those demands exceed your resources or ability to respond to them. A moderate level of stress can be helpful, as it motivates us to perform and tackle the challenge/s. Too much stress, or long term stress, is not so helpful, however. This is because our stress response (the ‘fight or flight’ response) is designed for short-term bursts. Long term activation of the fight or flight response requires a lot of energy, and produces symptoms such as difficulty concentrating or remembering, focusing on negatives, agitation, irritability, diarrhea or constipation, frequent illnesses (as the immune system gets suppressed), insomnia, and procrastination… to name just a few.
Causes of stress are often called ‘stressors’, and common stressors include losing a partner (through death, divorce, or separation), work pressures, conflict, and unemployment. Therapy can help you manage your stress.