stress and stressful fight or flight situations - a working definitionstress and stressful fight or flight situations - a working definition

What is Stress  ?
...a simple practical definition


STRESS   is the uncomfortable gap between...

a) how we would like our life to be


b) how it actually is


If this gap is persistent (or even worse: growing!) - despite our efforts to reduce it
then our distress is particularly acute
taking such forms as...

anxiety & fear "Where will it all end?"
frustration & depression "Nothing seems to work!"
anger "Who is responsible for this situation?"
anxiety "How much more can I take?"
anxiety "Can/will anyone help me?"
frustration & depression "I feel helpless to stop this!"
helplessness & depression "No-one seems to care!"
depression "What have I done to deserve this?"

In physiology, Stress is viewed as a frustrated 'fight or flight' response - a basic human survival mechanism left over from our primordial 'roots' when we could best respond to perceived dangers by either fighting or fleeing; seen in this way, stress behaviour and emotions are sometimes regarded as problematic inappropriate responses to threatening situations in modern civilised society, however, stress is...

...although the raw emotional and physical energies may have to be transformed to a more useful form before they are directly useful.

The official UK Health and Safety Executive [HSE] definition of stress focusses on the adverse consequences of excessive or prolonged stress and therefore carries a very negative and judgemental perspective which neglects the stimulating energetic power, guidance message and opportunities that stress carries - if we will only work with it in a natural healthy way and see the opportunities for personal and organisational learning, development, growth and maturation that it contains.

Unfortunately the FEAR, ANGER and DEPRESSION aspects of stress often intimidate or overwhelm us to the point where we perceive that the only road forward with stress [especially in the workplace] is to "control" or "manage" stress. However, it may be that excessive efforts to control the natural flow of life are sometimes actually lowering wellbeing to the point where additional stress is being generated. This is not say that we should not make some efforts to prevent or regulate levels of stress - the point is that this should not get in the way of other important stress responses such as acceptance, humour, learning, growing, healing, confronting and adapting.


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