Stress as a bodily response

Selye (1950) defined stress as ‘the non-specific response of the body to any demand’. So, in much the same way as an when one object placed on another causes stress, being exposed to something that causes damage to us can also be labelled as stress. Stress therefore refers to our reactions (behavioural, psychological) when we are exposed to something stressful. Demands are called ‘stressors’ – events that throw the body out of balance.

It’s important to note that stress isn’t always a bad thing – it can be useful when an organism needs to act quickly.  This is because stress results in arousal which makes an animal react in a situation that threatens survival. 

The stress response is innate, defensive and adaptive, which therefore means it promotes survival

There are some situations though which do not require such an immediate response but which are stressful – like completing an assignment, which can cause stress (or distress even!). The stress that is felt when completing an…


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