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What is stress?

Perhaps the first thing to say is that, unlike pressure, stress is never good for you andnever a positive thing. Stress creates unhealthy biological reactions, and prolonged stress can lead to both physical and mental health breakdown.

The HSE define stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them”

Raymond & Wilson define stress as “a mental and/or physical response, by an individual, to an inappropriate level of pressure whether real or perceived”

Lazarus defines stress as “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that the demands placed on them exceed the resources the individual has available”.

Based on Lazarus’s definition, while you perceive you have the ability and resources (internal and external) to cope with the demands placed on you, you are subject to pressure and not stress.
Perhaps this is why so many people talk of positive stress, when really they mean positive pressure.

No, stress in itself is not an illness. It is a response/reaction to excessive or prolonged pressure/challenges and this can cause mental and/or physical ill health.

Is stress an illness?


These are some of the symptoms that are indicators of too much pressure that can come from yourself, work, home, any combination of, or maybe even all three.


Inability to concentrate or make simple decisions
Memory lapses
Becoming rather vague
Easily distracted
Less intuitive & creative
Negative thinking
Depression & anxiety


Mood swings
Extra sensitive to criticism
Feeling out of control
Lack of motivation
Lack of confidence
Lack of self-esteem

What is the difference between Stress and Pressure?