What is Stress?
Stress is the result of our physical, emotional and mental response to a perceived threat. We decide an event is threatening based on data
we have collected throughout our lives. This data collection is both a conscious and an unconscious process and can be in the form of past
experiences, imagined outcomes, things we have read, been told or observed. As a professional Stress Therapist, I am trained in understanding
the effects of stress, but more importantly, I want to know how your unique condition affects you. I am interested in your story.
Stress starts in the mind because the chain reaction begins in response to our deciding a situation is threatening. We respond emotionally
and physiologically to this perceived threat. This response is known as fight or flight. Stress is generally felt as pressure within
the body. This feeling is distinct from the drive and enthusiasm we feel when motivated or working within a stimulating environment.
Different models have been used to try and define stress. Each model building on the previous model. Here is a summary of the key ones.
1. Stimulus-based Model
- This model was devised as a result of military research being carried out in the 1930s and 1940s looking at disorders such as battle fatigue.
- Stress was defined as a set of causes, not a set of symptoms. (Symonds, 1947)
- It was believed that a trigger caused a strain reaction similar to stress fractures found in engineering processes. If left untreated this strain reaction could cause ill health.
- It was believed that people have a certain tolerance to stress and some stress is necessary.
- This framework is used today in approaches that focus on a life event being the cause of the stress e.g. bereavement, divorce.
2. Response-based Model
- This theory found that an individual's response to the stressor is the cause of stress rather than the initiating stressor. (Hans Selye)
- Stress was defined as the non specific physiological response to demand.
- This theory does not differentiate between similar physiological responses e.g. excitement vs. stress. To differentiate Selye defined a negative response as "stress" and a positive response as "eustress".
3. Interactional Framework
- This model combined the stimulus-based and response-base theories by defining stress as the degree of mismatch between the person and their
- Whilst various triggers are present in order for a person to feel stressed, it is there ability to cope with the stressors and the environment
that determined whether they experience stress.
- The Health and Safety Executive builds on this model by defining stress as an unhelpful reaction to disproportionate pressure.
Stress has a Unique Pathway that Leaves Clues. We Can Use These Clues to Control our Stress.
This diagram shows you how...
Stress therapy addresses stress at the cognitive response stage, the emotional response stage and using biofeedback. Because stress starts
in your mind and generates an emotional response and physiological changes within your body, we can combat stress on three
levels: (1) physical, (2) emotional and (3) mental.
- Relax your body. Complementary Therapies offer a great way to schedule in some relaxation time. For information on some
complementary therapies that are available, please check out the menu on the left of this page.
- Change how you feel and use your emotions to monitor your level of stress.
- Change how you perceive an event.