“Stress” is probably one of the most commonly used words in our society. The dictionary defines stress as a “condition typically characterized by symptoms of mental and physical strain such as depression or hypertension. This could result from a reaction to a situation in which a person feels threatened, pressured etc. Synonyms of stress include anxiety, nervousness, fearfulness, apprehensiveness, impatience, fear, tenseness and restlessness.”
In line with neuroscience research, the reaction is the keyword here. We cannot control the events or circumstances we are exposed to daily but we can control our reactions. Controlling our reactions defines the difference between healthy minds and bodies versus toxic minds and bodies.
The latest neuroscience research proves that there is a close relationship between stress and physical illness. A study by the American Medical Association discovered that stress is a factor in 75 percent of all illnesses that people suffer from today. Genes play a far less important role in illness than ever thought before. Managing stress appropriately is thus not only important for our mental well-being but also to maintain our physical health.
Stress is not all bad. It can be a driver towards performance. A low level of stress is necessary for this. We can call this “eustress” which is manageable. When we experience excessive stress it can be called “distress” and this is what has detrimental effects on our minds and bodies. Our challenge is to make a clear distinction between “eustress” and “distress”. It is crucial for our wellbeing direct our thinking towards eliminating the latter.