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What is Stress?

According to Yaribeygi et al. (2017), stress is, “Any intrinsic or extrinsic stimulus that evokes a biological response”. Stress is a normal part of life; however, the body’s response to chronic stress can have serious implications for physical, emotional, and mental health. Intentional stress management and skills supporting decreased levels of stress improve quality of life and overall functioning. Stress has negative impacts on the physiological structure of the brass including decreased brain mass and neurons (Yaribeygi et al., 2017). Untreated elevated levels of stress can result in burnout and poor performance in the workplace (Ebert et al., 2016). It can also negatively impact mood, mental health, physical healing, and wellness (Lopez et al., 2011; Stagl et al., 2015). Ebert et al. (2016) identified depressed mood, lack of interest in activities and sleep disturbance are some results of untreated stress. These symptoms negatively impact relationships with loved ones, co-workers, and peers. In 2011 a study completed by Lopez et al. on people with chronic fatigue found individuals experiencing elevated levels of stress often had a decreased quality of life, worsening physical health conditions, increased difficulty sleeping, and higher rates of depressed mood. There are many positive benefits of therapeutic stress management interventions. These include improved functioning, increased sense of quality of life, and increased joy in life activities (Lopez et al., 2011). Additional positive outcomes of stress management include promotion of increased energy, improved mood, higher work performance, improved sleep, improved appetite regulation, and more (Stagl et al., 2015). The benefits of these outcomes positively impact individuals, relationships, family dynamics and careers. The brain benefits from stress management on a physiological level as evidenced by improved memory, improved hormone and endocrine system function, and increased number of neurons (Yaribeygi et al., 2017). Knowledge and skills for stress management have numerous benefits. Stress management skills proven effective include mindfulness exercises, breathing exercises, cognitive behavioral skills, emotional regulation, problems solving skills (Ebert et al, 2016; Lopez et al., 2011; Stagl et al., 2015). Yaribeygi et al. (2017) also identify daily exercise, positive lifestyle changes, and a healthy diet as helpful interventions for stress reduction. Intentional building and application of skills to challenge stress and stress responses has remarkable outcomes worth the effort required.


Ebert, D. D., Heber, E., Berking, M., Riper, H., Cuijpers, P., Funk, B., & Lehr, D. (2016). Self-guided internet-based and mobile-based stress management for employees: Results of a randomised controlled trial. Occupational and Environmental Medicine (London, England), 73(5), 315-323.

Lopez, C., Antoni, M., Penedo, F., Weiss, D., Cruess, S., Segotas, M., Helder, L., Siegel, S., Klimas, N., & Fletcher, M. A. (2011). A pilot study of cognitive behavioral stress management effects on stress, quality of life, and symptoms in persons with chronic fatigue syndrome. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 70(4), 328-334.

Stagl, J. M., Bouchard, L. C., Lechner, S. C., Blomberg, B. B., Gudenkauf, L. M., Jutagir, D. R., Glück, S., Derhagopian, R. P., Carver, C. S., & Antoni, M. H. (2015). Long‐term psychological benefits of cognitive‐behavioral stress management for women with breast cancer: 11‐year follow‐up of a randomized controlled trial. Cancer, 121(11), 1873-1881.

Yaribeygi, H., Panahi, Y., Sahraei, H., Johnston, T. P., & Sahebkar, A. (2017). The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI Journal, 16(1), 1057–1072.

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