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  • Sam DiFranco


Stress is often defined as a bodily response to the demands of life. But there are also emotional and mental aspects of stress. It is experienced as thoughts and feelings as well as in the body. Another way to define stress could be as an internal and conditioned response to external pressures.

Mental health professionals often help people reduce and manage their stress. They can also help people work through other mental health issues that have developed while coping with high levels of stress over a period of time.


The American Institute of Stress calls stress “America’s leading health problem.” In many cases, the stress Americans experience today is a response to psychological threats. Some of these threats might be losing a job or looking for employment, the death of a loved one, or relationship issues. Any of these can occur more than once in the course of a life.


Stress is not always caused by a negative event. Some positive life experiences can be just as stress-inducing as negative ones.

The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory indexes common stressful events and uses a numerical value to rank them. It uses these values to determine a person’s potential for becoming ill as a result of stress. Some common stressors in life, many of which appear on the stress inventory, include:

  1. Losing a job or starting a new job

  2. Getting divorced or going through a breakup

  3. Getting married

  4. Being discriminated against

  5. Experiencing a change in financial status

  6. Following the news or politics

  7. Having a child

  8. Moving

  9. Beginning or ending school

  10. Experiencing a loss

  11. Being diagnosed with a serious illness

For many people, these events are normal parts of life. Not everyone experiences a divorce, marriage, or having a child. But many will experience discrimination, lose a job, go through a breakup, or experience another major or minor event.

For most people, stress is a part of life that is not going anywhere. But it may be easier to manage in smaller amounts, especially when other factors help mitigate it. A marriage, for example, is generally considered to be a happy event. Though it can be stressful to plan and prepare for the ceremony, the excitement experienced by the couple may help reduce the physical and mental effects of their stress.

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