Stress and Health

Stress and Health

At one point or another, we all experience stress. Stress comes from a myriad of sources, such as school, work, people, relationships, etc. We encounter stress everyday, with each decision we make, ranging from daily hassles to life changes. Being under a small amount of stress is normal, healthy even, but chronic and intense stress can have serious influences on your mental and physical health.

Not all stress is bad. Eustress is the positive type of stress we experience, but don’t really think about. Eustress motivates us, helps us focus, and improves performance. It’s the “butterflies” you feel when something new or exciting happens. Eustress is, usually, short-term and exciting. Distress, however, is the negative type of stress that first comes to mind. It can decrease productivity and performance, causes anxiety, and can potentially lead to both mental and physical problems. Distress can be either short-term or long-term, depending on the situation, and feels rather miserable.

Chronic stress can take a toll on the sufferer’s mental and physical health. Undergoing seemingly endless stress can lead to depression, anxiety, irritability, chronic headaches, and/or insomnia. Such pressure also affects the immune system. The immune system produces white blood cells to fight off antigens, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancerous cells; however, constant stress suppresses the immune system’s ability to protect the body from such antigens. Persistent stress can eventually lead to ulcers, heart disease, and cancer.

When relieving stress, one must get rid of the stressor in a healthy way. Unfortunately, many tend to seek out temporary relief from stress, otherwise known as defensive coping. Defensive coping does not get rid of the source of stress; it only distracts us from the stressor, being more harmful than helpful. Active coping is the healthy way stress can be addressed. Active coping occurs when one changes the situation to eliminate the negative effects of the stressor. This occurs through social support, problem solving, and seeking information. Stress plays a major part in our health, and how we choose to deal with it can play an even bigger role.


Works Cited
Mills, Harry, Ph.D., Reiss, Natalie, Ph,D., Dombeck, Mark, Ph.D. “Types of Stressors.”,
McLeod, Saul. “Stress, Illness, and the Immune System.”,