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Good vs Bad Stress
April 2, 2014 No comments
How to tell the difference between good and bad stress
Do you know what stress is? Stress is your body's response to almost anything that needs adapting or adjusting. Pretty broad eh? Stress can be defined on so many levels and categorized into different types. Speaking of levels, stress can be interpreted on the microscopic (cellular) level, or on the macroscopic level (what our bare eyes see). It can be categorized according to time (acute or chronic), intensity (mild, severe), duration (prolonged or short), etc.
This is fairly evident if you try to talk to various professionals in different fields. If you ask a psychologist, you’ll get the definition of psychological stress. Ask a biologist and he may define cellular or oxidative stress for you. There are a lot more. Unfortunately, for most of us, we lean more on the psychological side of stress, how it affects our mood and behaviour. The majority of us are completely unaware of the bad effects of stress (pathological) on our health. We’ll make it simple here and not confuse ourselves with all the fields involved and complex medical terminology.
For practical purposes, we’ll determine stress as either pathological or physiological stress. Simply put, pathological stress is the bad type of stress, the one you’re trying to avoid. On the other hand, physiological stress is the type of stress that’s beneficial or good for your health.
Physiological (healthy) versus Pathological (unhealthy) types of stress:
|Physiological Stress||Pathological Stress|
|Also known as||Healthy, Good||Unhealthy, Bad|
|How do you know which of the two you’re experiencing?||
|Presence of signs or symptoms||
Any type of physiological stress can become pathological stress when our body can no longer adapt and this results in injury. This injury may be visible on a cellular, organ or systemic level. Most of the pathological stress we experience in our lives is chronic, it persists for a long time.
The effects of pathological stress on different organs/body systems:
Let’s Crunch Some Numbers
Before ending this article, here are some statistics which may persuade you to handle your stress much more effectively right away:
- In the US, the number 1 cause of stress is job pressure. Money and health come in at 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
- Financial issues are the number 1 source of stress in Australia. Up to 50% due to personal finances.
- Around 40% of Australians have reported that trying to live a healthy lifestyle is a source of stress for them.
- 1 in every 5 Australian reported that stress was taking a large toll on their physical health.
- Among New Zealanders, stress is believed to have played an essential role in almost 80% of diseases and absences.
Stress is a vital part of our lives. Every part of your anatomy experiences stress to some degree. Physiological stress is an important and normal part of our lives. It’s necessary for our growth and development and it enables us to manage our daily challenges better. What we don’t want is pathological stress. We all have different types of stress to deal with every single day. Nobody can avoid or escape it (like taxes).
We must be able to recognise the point where physiological stress transforms into pathological stress. Then we can practice managing our stress so that it doesn’t cause cellular and organ damage. Dealing with what stresses us right away is beneficial for most of the stress we encounter every day. We don’t need to put it off until later. Prolonging the stress response isn’t helpful at all. Deal with it as soon as you can and feel better for it. Check out our stress management tips.
- Rubin, Raphael, David S. Strayer, and Emanuel Rubin. Rubin's Pathology: Clinic pathologic Foundations of Medicine. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012. Print.