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What Are Stressors?


Updated September 28, 2012

What Are Stressors?

Having too many things to do can be a stressor in itself!

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Definition: Stressors are situations that are experienced as a perceived threat to one’s wellbeing or position in life, when the challenge of dealing with which, exceeds the person’s perceived available resources. When one encounters stressors, the body’s stress response is triggered, and a series of physiological changes take place to allow the person to fight or run. Sometimes when people talk about ‘stress’ in their life, they are really talking about stressors; stressors lead to the body’s stress response, and the experience of stress.

What Situations Become Stressors?

What situations are stressors? That can vary from person to person. While some things tend to stress many people—job demands, relationship conflicts, a hectic schedule—not every potential stressor causes stress in everyone. This is everyone has a unique set of resources, understanding of the world, and way of perceiving things; what seems like a threat to one person may be perceived as a challenge to another.

Managing Stressors

While it would be impractical to eliminate all stress (and because certain types of stress, such as eustress, are actually good for you, you wouldn't want to, anyway), it is important to be able to minimize stressors in your life and deal with the stress that you do experience—what’s known as stress management. This site has a wealth of ongoing stress reduction resources to help with that, but here are some targeted resources for managing the stress from specific stressors:

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