What is stress?

Stress is a chemical reaction which we experience when we come into contact with something which causes tension or pressure. If we are nervous about performing for example, this can lead to stress. Stress has the goal to put the body in a state of readiness. It wants to prepare us for danger, by making our body respond more quickly and efficiently.

Because of this, it often is so that a little stress can be a positive thing. For example, if you experience a little stress on the day before an exam, chances are that you will find it easier to study better and longer, leading your grade to be better. Stress thus has the goal to push you just a little further in order to receive better results.

However, if stress adds up, the consequences of stress will no longer be so positive. Stress to a light extent namely helps you move forward, but if stress adds up, it can cause you to feel blocked and perform more poorly than you otherwise would have. For example, it might be so that the stress causes you to have issues focusing, meaning you make more mistakes.

Is stress the same as pressure?

Stress is not the same as pressure. With pressure we mean the feeling which you get from the amount of work and tasks which you receive. Stress can be a result of the experiencing of this pressure. It is possible that, for example, people who get the same workload do not experience the same pressure. Pressure is, like stress, a subjective feeling which is dynamic and individual. So it is not necessarily a positive thing to hear other people say ‘What are you so wound up for?’. Even people with the same amount of work namely deal with this in a different way, meaning they experience a different feeling of pressure and stress.

So it does not help you to feel ‘weaker’ or ‘worse’ than other people, because this has nothing to do with the experiencing of pressure and stress. What you can eventually do on the other hand, is observe how these people deal with stress and pressure, to learn eventual other techniques for dealing with stress and pressure.

Do you think that your stress level may be too high?

As you could read in the beginning of this article, stress only helps you move forward if your stress levels are not too high. By filling out our free stress test you can find out if your stress level is healthy and whether or not it works against you.