Stress is any change in the environment that requires your body to react and adjust in response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.
Stress is a normal part of life. Many events that happen to you and around you — and many things that you do yourself — put stress on your body. You can experience good or bad forms of stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.
How Does Stress Affect Health?
The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive (“eustress”) — such as a getting a job promotion or being given greater responsibilities — keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative (“distress”) when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked and stress-related tension builds.
Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.