The stress and health impact factor
What is stress?
Stress results from the individual perception of a state of adjustment effort, due to the necessity to refocus on the new emerging demand. Thus, stress occurs as a perceived discrepancy between the demand and evaluation of our own abilities to cope with the new challenges. Here it should be noted that stress is not imposed only by the exterior demands, it can also be generated by our own hopes, aspirations, fears and beliefs. In other words, stress is the body’s response to any request generating pleasant or unpleasant conditions. Stress is a complex concept, incorporating positive and negative aspects.
Did you know that there are two types of stress?
Some believe that the ideal state of the body is the absence of stress, which is totally wrong and contradicts everything we know about the natural conditions of life and the of adaptation to natural and social environment. In this regard, it was noted that there are two types of stress: distress and eustress.
Eustress is a positive stress that motivates you to continue to work. Stress can be a motivator and can encourage you to continue until you reach the goal. Each of us needs that kind of stress to continue to have new challenges and be happy, motivated and productive. When this type of stress cannot be tolerated and managed, eustress turns into distress.
Negative stress or distress occurs when excessive stress is positive and exceeds our stress management capacity. This way tension shows up, the challenge ceases to be stimulating, motivating, creating the impression that the situation does not lead to any good ending. This kind of stress is most familiar to us. Physiological symptoms of distress include high or low blood pressure, accelerated breathing or generalized state of tension. Behavioral symptoms include excessive eating, loss of appetite, drinking, smoking and other negative mechanisms of adaptation.
Types of stress
Chandra Patel, in his study of stress management, highlights three types of stress: domestic stress, occupational stress, economic, political and social stresses.
A.Domestic stress occurs in the following situations:
• Monoparental family, divorce, lack of communication between spouses, sexual difficulties between partners, infidelity, irrational jealousy, husband addicted to drugs or alcohol, prolong separation, serious or chronic illness of a family member, differences in values and priorities ;
• Children with behavioral disorders, foster child/children, child with very poor school performance, insufficient time for the children’s education, unplanned pregnancy;
• inter-generational conflict;
• repeated financial problems;
• relatives with unreasonable demands, cohabitation with relatives etc.
B. Occupational stress may be generated by:
• inadequate rewards (low wages, poor prospects), frequent night shifts, meaningless
work, too much work per time unit, too few opportunities to learn new things, etc..
• dictatorial management, manager with an aggressive style of communication, management deficiency during crisis, imprecise description of responsibilities and work process, conflicts with the boss, conflicts with peers;
• hostile customers;
• environmental factors (toxicity, cold, high temperature), etc.
C. Economic, political, social stresses:
- recession, inflation, unemployment, economic disparity, strikes;
- dictatorship, revolution, street protests;
- violation of human rights;
- racial discrimination, minority discrimination;
- war or threat of war.
The main clinical manifestations of psychological stress are:
– on behavioral level: aggression, passivity, decreased performance at work, accidents, damaged relationships with the others;
– on cognitive level: attention and memory disorders, ideational blockage, confusions, irritability, fatigue, crying, paradoxical laughter, anxiety, depression, obsessions, insomnia, nightmares, indecision or hasty decisions, low creativity, etc.
Doina Cosman, Medical Psychology,