Almost every day, people encounter events or have experiences that they did not expect or for which they are unprepared. The result is the physical, mental, and emotional strain known as stress. Stimuli that produce stress are referred to as stressors. One of the most common types of stressor is everyday hassles, which are annoying or irritating but typically fairly easy to deal with. Major life events such as the death of a relative, a serious illness or injury, being fired or suspended, or a personal failure usually cause more intense and enduring reactions than hassles. Disasters and catastrophes such as an airplane crash, an earthquake, a bombing, or a flood cause many people to be under stress at the same time.
Among the symptoms of prolonged stress are persisting anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, and backache. Continuing stress can affect the course and severity of physical disorders such as peptic ulcers, migraine headaches, skin conditions, chronic backache, and bronchial asthma.
Most people learn in the course of growing up that a certain amount of stress is a normal part of life and, like all experiences, must be dealt with in some way. The various ways in which people deal or cope with stress are known as coping strategies. Coping strategies range all the way from direct aggression through denial and withdrawal, but all have the function of reducing the level of stress so one can get on with the business of living.
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