Stress can enter one's life in many forms — an intense mother-in-law, a to-do list the length of a roll of toilet paper, and final exams are some classic examples. But stress can strike whenever there is an exciting carousel of activity. In these moments, you may feel your health has been affected somehow and wonder how big a role stress plays in overall well-being.
Technically, stress refers to the sum of the physical, mental, and emotional strains on a person. Feelings of stress appear when you perceive your environment as exceeding your adaptive capabilities and threatening your well-being. In popular terms it is also associated with time pressure, like with uncontrolled to-do lists and strict work deadlines or exam dates.
The immediate consequences of stress often take the form of sleepless nights and a moody new disposition, while long-term stress can cause serious health problems, weaken your immune system, induce depression, and increase the chance of developing heart disease or asthma complications. Even if every person responds differently under stress, most people would prefer to go without it.
If you suspect stress is keeping you down, there are a few devices and techniques you can use to quantify your stress and convince yourself — or your boss — that you need to slow down.
This article was written by Pilar Carreras, a researcher in Biomedical Engineering at CCNY.