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The Impact of Stress on Health and Performance

Most people recognize that stress is not healthy but most fail to realize the significant impact stress can have on both physiological and psychological well-being. Estimates vary, but experts believe about 70% of doctor visits and 80% of serious illnesses may be exacerbated or linked to stress. Whether it is an acute bout of frustration, as experienced when cut off in traffic, or a major life event such as a divorce, losing one’s job, or being diagnosed with a disease, stress can negatively affect all systems of the human body. Interestingly, even though stress is an innate response it varies by person. Stress is heavily rooted in perception; one individual’s unpleasant experience can be another’s enjoyable undertaking. Essentially, stress can produce positive or negative metabolic and hormonal responses based on the internal environment and the balance maintained between the stress itself and recovery measures to attenuate its response (e.g., proper nutrition, sleep, and stress management techniques). Adequate stress, whether physical or mental, is needed to promote adaptations in a bodily system; while excessive stress results in systemic breakdown. Eustress is the term utilized to describe appropriate stress routinely applied for the provision of positive adaptive outcomes; distress describes an excessive level of stress that promotes negative outcomes.

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