To Stress Or Not To Stress

To most people 'stress' brings to​ conjures up unpleasant feelings. However,​ many of​ those in​ the​ field of​ psychology are of​ the​ opinion that stress is​ something that can have positive effects.

Why the​ disconnect?

Essentially the​ answers lie in​ how each individual person evaluates their own mental and physical well being.

Perhaps some examples could help to​ make bring this point home.

For instance,​ assume two people,​ one a​ championship caliber athlete or​ performer,​ the​ other a​ college senior about to​ take a​ final test. the​ athlete or​ performer has been training most of​ their life for tasks that they perform; and let’s say in​ our case,​ the​ student has hardly cracked a​ book or​ studied at​ all for the​ impending test.

From a​ strictly a​ physiological point of​ view both individuals will be experiencing similar effects - raised heartbeat and breathing,​ higher metabolism,​ active sweat glands and so forth.

Psychologically,​ there are also similarities - increased concentration on​ the​ task at​ hand and focus on​ the​ next few minutes,​ clear images and heightened sensitivity to​ feelings.

However,​ there are key differences,​ at​ least psychologically speaking. the​ athlete is​ uses these feelings to​ their advantage to​ gain razor sharp focus,​ ready to​ tackle challenge,​ and confident in​ his ability to​ exhibit his prowess and dominate the​ contest.

The senior… not so fortunate… probably experiencing doubt and fear.

In either of​ the​ cases it's reasonable to​ say that there is​ a​ definite element of​ stress involved. And one would also conclude that both individuals are feeling stressful.

It is​ the​ differences that are the​ key.

The athlete mentally processes his scenario as​ a​ challenge that he welcomes and is​ confident in​ his ability to​ tackle. One the​ other hand,​ the​ senior is​ well aware of​ the​ fact that he has poorly prepared and understands the​ ramifications his impending failure – i.e. a​ lowered grade and possible having to​ retake the​ class.

In both cases the​ individuals are uncertain of​ the​ outcome,​ but each evaluates the​ odds of​ success differently... as​ would each also project the​ outcome of​ failure differently.

The athlete may wind up short of​ a​ victory or​ first place finish; which may be disappointing but still the​ overall picture is​ one of​ a​ successful season or​ performance.

The senior,​ on​ the​ other hand may see his chances for getting into a​ good graduate school slipping away. in​ fact,​ he may have to​ ultimately pass this class before he can even graduate.

Needless to​ say,​ the​ examples are very basic,​ but the​ premise is​ accurate.

How you​ process various events will leave you​ feeling stressed or​ simply one of​ life’s challenges that you​ know you​ can handle.

You can see by these two examples that there are actually two definitions of​ the​ word 'stress' that sometimes get interchanged.

One refers to​ a​ heightened awareness and the​ physiological symptoms described above.

The other is​ adds the​ element of​ worry and those symptoms.

The latter is​ the​ one that can have negative health consequences that under certain circumstances can even be physically harmful.

We as​ humans are tethered to​ both our mind and our body and the​ two aspects affect one another,​ the​ psychological part is​ just as​ important.

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