Chapter 2

Stress Explained (In Surprisingly Few Pages)

In This Chapter

arrow Understanding stress

arrow Looking at a model of stress

arrow Finding the right balance

You’ve heard the word stress a thousand times. But if you’re pressed to explain the concept, you may find yourself a little stuck. Intuitively, you know what stress is, but explaining it isn’t easy. This chapter helps you answer the question, “What exactly is stress?” The next time you find yourself at a dinner party and someone asks, “Does anyone here know what stress is?” you can grin knowingly, raise your hand, and proceed to dazzle and delight your tablemates.

So What Is Stress Anyhow?

Defining stress isn’t easy. Professionals who’ve spent most of their lives studying stress still have trouble defining the term. As one stress researcher quipped, “Defining stress is like nailing Jell-O to a tree. It’s hard to do!” Despite efforts during the last half ­century to assign a specific meaning to the term, no satisfactory definition exists. Defining stress is much like defining happiness. Everyone knows what it is, but no one can agree on a single definition.

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