What is stress?

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Learn about stress and how it affects the body. Also learn the differences between good stress and bad stress.

Key points

  • Stress is your body's physical and emotional reaction to pressure or an unwelcome change.
  • Stressors can come from either the outside world or from inside yourself.
  • Stress can be good in small doses to help motivate you to do your best.
  • Stress that affects your physical and emotional well-being is known as bad stress and needs to be managed.

Stress is a normal part of life. Stress happens to everyone. It is your body’s physical and emotional reaction to something that upsets your personal balance. To your body, stress means change. Anything that bothers you can create stress. In turn, stress can create tension in your body. Imagining an unwelcome change or event is also stressful. This is called worry.

Stress is what you feel when you react to pressure. This pressure can come either from the outside world (school, work, after-school activities, friends, family) or from inside yourself (wanting to do well in school, wanting to fit in). These events or demands are known as stressors.

Stress is what you feel inside. Stressors are outside events or demands.

In small doses, stress can be a good thing. It can give you the push you need. It can motivate you to do your best. It can help you stay focused and alert. Stress helps you to perform well during an important concert performance. Stress is what drives you to study for your midterm when you would rather be watching TV or hanging out with your friends. This is called good stress.

When the going gets too tough and life’s demands exceed your ability to cope, stress can affect both your physical and emotional well-being. This is known as bad stress. The focus of this session will be on ways to manage bad stress.

Stress often lies under the radar

Many teenagers may say that they aren’t under much stress. They may not think that stress triggers their JIA flares or makes their symptoms worse. You may feel the same way. However, we know that many people are just not aware of the stress that their bodies experience. This is normal and may require a little special attention to figure out how your body reacts to stress.

Last updated: January 31st 2017