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Understanding the Five Components of Stress

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines job stress as: the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. A 2013 study by Harris Interactive for Everest College showed that 83% of American workers experience stress about their jobs, which was an increase from 73% in 2012. To better understand the puzzle that is workplace stress, we’re here to help you identify the five components of it. It is important to get a handle on stress and prevent the onset of it in unhealthy amounts. High levels of stress have adverse affects on your health and can trigger unhealthy habits or contribute to illness.

STRESSORS: A stressor is anything that causes the release of stress hormones. There are two broad categories of stressors: Physiological (or physical) stressors and Psychological Stressors. Simply put, stressors are factors that cause stress.

STRESS RESPONSE: The stress response is how our brain and body responds to the stressor. When a stress response is triggered, it sends signals to two other structures: the pituitary gland, and the adrenal medulla. These short term responses are produced by The Fight or Flight Response

INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES: There have been many studies conducted that focus on the individual differences in the stress response. Individual differences refer to the fact that each individual experiences stress differently. What can cause stress for one person may not be as stressful for someone else.

ALLOSTATIC LOAD: The allostatic load is the wear and tear on the body which grows over time when the individual is exposed to repeated or chronic stress. Simply, this is the physiological manifestation that stress takes a toll on an individual. Paying attention to allostatic load recognizes that experiencing stress causes emotional and physiological changes.

ALLOSTATIC BALANCE: Allostatic balance is the process of recovering from stress and returning to a place of physiological and emotional balance. Recognizing stressors that can add to your allostatic load will be key in maintaining a proper allostatic balance for yourself.

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