Stress can harm our wellbeing and stop us from thriving.

With an understanding of what stress is and how we come to experience it, we are better placed to acquire the skills and tools we need to prevent and to manage our stress to best effect.

And when we do that, life becomes more pleasurable and we are able to thrive.

Do you really know what stress is?

A key first step in stress prevention is to gain an understanding of what stress is and how we come to experience it. With this knowledge we:

  • gain a greater sense of control over our stress, and
  • put ourselves in a strong position to develop a stress management plan that is tailored to the unique individual we are.

To help build our understanding of stress let’s take a quick look at what stress is and how we come to experience it.

Stress and how we come to experience it

Stress is something we experience. It’s a cocktail of various physiological sensations with an added dose of fear.

Stress is a product of our inbuilt survival system – let’s call it our STRESS system – which has been refined, and enhanced, over millions of years. The system is very good at its job. We know that because we’re still here, whereas other species with less effective survival systems became extinct a long time ago,

Our STRESS system helps us respond to both present danger and potential future danger.

In response to perceived:

  • real and present danger we experience stress
  • potential future danger we experience anxiety

All of our present dangers fall into one of the falling three categories:

  • Unmet physical needs such as the need to eat, the need to sleep, the need to move
  • Unmet emotional needs – we have nine essential emotional needs
  • Excessive pressurewhen we accept a demand (from others or ourselves) we create a pressure situation. We have limited personal and social resources to handle all our pressure situations. When we exhaust those resources our mind appraises the accumulated pressure as having become excessive, and therefore a threat to our emotional and/or physical well-being.

Perceived danger arouses fear.

Fear activates the Stress Response.

The Stress Response releases adrenaline and other stress hormones that prepare our body and give it the energy it needs to deal with the danger.

We then feel the fear that the danger aroused and sense the physiological changes the stress hormones have created in our body – e.g. increased heart rate, increased breathing, sweating, plus. This is physical and emotional experience is stress.

How we respond to stress

With a body now adapted and ready to deal with the danger, we respond in one or more of the following ways:

We freeze – our body goes tense, our mind goes blank. We are the proverbial ‘possum in the headlights’.

We fight – we may physically attack or verbally attack the source of the danger.

We flee – we escape from the environment containing the danger e.g. we storm out of the room, we tell our boss we’re feeling unwell and hurriedly leave work, we run from the burning building.

So there you have it – a quick look at what stress is and how it’s generated.

How can you now use this understanding of stress?


You can use this understanding of the STRESS system to identify the points in the system where you can intervene to avoid experiencing stress, reduce its impact and cope with it.

When you begin actively managing your stress, life becomes a lot more pleasurable and healthier!

Need help in mastering your stress and anxiety?

If you are suffering with stress, anxiety, panic attacks and want to stop suffering and to start enjoying life fully again, call me on 021 056 8389, email with your name & number, or use the Book Now button below.


Go well


REMEMBER – “When you change your mind you change your life.”

Tony helps people of all ages live their lives free of unnecessary stress, anxiety and depression, and be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.