Forces from the outside world impinging on the individual. Stress is a normal part of life that can help us learn and grow. Conversely, stress can cause us significant problems.
Stress releases powerful neurochemicals and hormones that prepare us for action (to fight or flee). If we don't take action, the stress response can lead to health problems. Prolonged, uninterrupted, unexpected, and unmanageable stresses are the most damaging types of stress.
Early separation from mother can lead to altered stress responses and depression later in life. The stresses of the mother can affect the stress response of the fetus, and perhaps predispose the child to psychiatric illness later in life.
Many of our ways in dealing with stress – drugs, pain medicines, alcohol, smoking, and eating – actually are counterproductive in that they can worsen the stress and can make us more reactive (sensitive) to further stress.
Stress can be best managed by regular exercise, meditation or other relaxation techniques, structured time outs, and learning new coping strategies to create predictability in our lives. The management of stress depend mainly on the willingness of a person to make the changes necessary for a healthy lifestyle.