Stress and Pain Management Educatio
İJon Seskevich 2007
Guide to Coping with
Health Problems and Stress
By Jon Seskevich RN, BSN, BA, CHTP
Nurse Clinician, Duke University Health System

Printer Friendly Version (PDF 10 pages)

What is stress?
How does stress affect the body?
Signs of stress
Coping with health problems or stress
Relaxation techniques
Assertive Communication Rights
How does relaxation look to an EEG (electroencephalogram)?

What Is Stress?

Most people consider stress as problems, worries, tension or pressure. It is valuable and practical to see stress relating to change. Stress can come from any change that one must adjust to. Health problems can cause change in many dimensions of life! Stress can be an everyday fact of life for many. Some thrive on stress. A stressor, something that causes stress, can be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Christmas, the holidays, a wedding, buying a house, or having a child all can be very positive but stressful.

Stress, according to Hans Selye, MD, is the wear and tear on our body, mind, and spirit brought about by our reactions to the events of life. The stress response is the end result of the complex interaction between the individual and his or her world.


Stressors are things, events or people that cause us to change or adapt:

  • Physical: Personal illness, noise, heat, cold, weather, smoke, pollution.
  • Social: Illness in the family, relationships with family members, friends, neighbors, loved ones or coworkers. A stressful work situation, success, money problems, a major change in family life like getting married, or divorced.
  • Mental: Being in limbo, waiting and not knowing what will be happening, choices in general, not being able to meet a goal, frequently having to be perfect, quick temper, control issues, or addictions
  • Strong emotional reactions can come from or cause more stress.
Individual make-up (mind-body-spirit):
  • Each person is different genetically and has unique strengths and weaknesses.
  • These differences include our age, sex, physical fitness, places where tension may build or react in our bodies, illness and health habits.
  • We all have attitudes, beliefs and personalities. Each person interprets and responds to stressors distinctly. This is in part due to what we have learned in the past. Learning can come from family, peers, society, church, school, movies and TV.

    Next: How does stress affect the body?

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Copyright İ 2008 Manage Stress Now Updated: 09/20/10