Study Coach: What is Stress?

Answer: Stress is caused when external events creates a negative reaction, or strain affecting the individual. Stress is the result caused by pressures of life. You could liken stress to having a heavy load on your shoulders, a person might therefore say that they feel pressured. Stress can be described as a combination of stimulus and response, the interaction between the stimulus (external event) and the bodily response resulting in stress. 

The theorist Hans Selye (1956) defined stress as ‘…the individual’s psychophysiological response, mediated largely by the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, to any demands made on the individual’. Selye’s definition and reference to ‘psychophysiological response’ clearly indicates that stress is a combination of two academic subjects, namely, psychology and physiology. When a person perceives something in life as threatening, the person’s negative perception triggers a physiological/bodily response, resulting in activating the body’s endocrine system (a system of glands). The system of glands will secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are chemicals and these chemicals will circulate in the bloodstream and send messages to particular bodily cells and organs. The adrenal glands are the main stress glands and they play a major role in the stress response and our ability to cope with stress. From a biological point of view, we will find the adrenal glands on top of our kidneys. The adrenal glands will secrete adrenaline and other stress hormones in response to stress. 

When we perceive something in our environment as threatening (stressful) a number of bodily/physiological changes can take place, including our heart rate will accelerate, saliva and mucus dry up, breathing deepens, blood pressure become raised. Stress is considered to be dangerous for health, it is said that both prolonged and acute stress can kill. One reason why stress can kill is because adrenal hormones can cause an increase in blood clotting, so if we suffer from prolonged stress it can lead to arterial plaque and cause heart disease. Sometimes we worry about events that have yet to take place, this is not good for our health, in extreme cases of stress we could even create stomach ulcers, what Hans Selye refers to as a disease of adaptation.

We cannot get rid of stress but we can use techniques to manage stress. If you’re looking for a stress relieving activity, you could try a stress relief toy. The quiet fidget stress anxiety relief toy is suitable for use in classroom, office, airplanes, why not take a look at the following Amazon link:

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STRESS ASSIGNMENT: If you have an assignment on Stress and require academic support then do get in touch. Morel Benard at Study Coach UK, Email: ( 

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