Stress 101


"What peaceful hoursI once enjoy'd!"- William Cowper (1731-1800), Enlish poet and hymnodistWalking with God (c.1779)IT comes as an irony that William Cowper suffered a nervous breakdown from the stress of studying for an exam. He sat for a Clerkship of Journals at the House of Lords, couldn't handle the anxiety, and was later committed to a sanatorium. We intuitively know what stress feels like but here's how stress research pioneer and endocrinologist Dr. Hans Selye defined it: "Stress is the state manifested by a specific syndrome which consists of all the nonspecifically-induced changes within a biologic system. Thus, stress has its own characteristic form and composition, but no particular cause. The elements of its form are the visible changes due to stress, which are addictive indicators expressing the sum of all the different adjustments that are going on in the body at any time." Now that gives me stress.Anyway, the good doctor simplified stress by saying that it is the "nonspecific response of the body to any demand, whether it is caused by, or results in, pleasant or unpleasant conditions." He then differentiated between good stress or "eustress" - the kind of which has a positive effect on a us - a do able challenge, competition viewed as enjoyable, etc., and the bad stress or "distress." This is negative stress because of our refusal or inability to adapt to the stressors. And what are some of these stressful life events?Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. In 1967, two psychiatrists listed 43 stressful conditions that are linked to illness. Attempting to quantify stress, a score of "100" is given to the highest stressful life event. The top ten are: 1. Death of a spouse (100), 2. Divorce (73), 3. Separation (65,) 4. Imprisonment (63), 5. Death of a close family member (63), 6. Personal injury or illness (53), 7. Marriage (50), 8. Dismissal from work (47), 9. Marital reconciliation (45), 10. …

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Stress 101
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