Emotional and cognitive stress is a subjective response, experienced by the body, to a particular situation or thought. Stress can motivate us to perform at optimal levels, and it can also cause us to feel helpless and we emotionally shut down.

How we perceive a stressful event or thought determines the response by our bodies. In some cases we perceive the stress as a challenge and are able to adapt, but in other cases our strategies for coping are not able to adequately manage the stress and we feel anxious, depressed and/or uncomfortably out of control of the situation.

Emotional stress is difficult to define because people view situations and thoughts so differently, therefore the body response to those external and internal stimuli is different for each person. People also have varying coping mechanisms making it difficult to assign one particular method of coping to deal with a stressor.

Some examples of Cognitive Stress can include:

 Inability to concentrate
 Racing or perseverating thoughts
 Difficulty remembering things
 Negative or pessimistic thoughts

Examples of Emotional Stress may include:

 Irritability
Loneliness or isolation
 Agitation or inability to relax
 Feeling overwhelmed
 Generally unhappy or depressed
 Mood fluctuations

We know that both negative and positive stressors can lead to stress. Social issues are often a great source of stress. For example, planning a wedding can be both exciting and stressful. The birth of a baby brings great joy that also requires adapting to a lifestyle change.

Sensory input from bright lights, loud noises, pain, air and water quality, and degree of personal freedom all affect levels of stress.

Life experiences such as unemployment, poverty, chronic physical or mental illness, homelessness, and even lack of sleep contribute to stress. Getting promoted in your job is often a positive stressor, but the added, and possibly more complex work, can lead to negative stress.

Experiences that happen before your awareness like being born prematurely, born to a drug or alcohol addicted mother, and poor parent-child bonding will affect the way you are able to cope with stress.

There are numerous coping strategies employed by people under stress. It is important to note that while many find activities like drinking alcohol, overindulging in comfort foods and smoking stress relieving, they will most certainly contribute to other stresses if abused. Healthier methods for controlling stress may include: playing sports, relaxation activities like Yoga, reading, praying, getting a spa treatment, listening to music, petting an animal,spending time with friends and family, and talking to a trusted person.

We experience stress every day, but it’s important to recognize if you are unable to manage stressors over time. Talking to others about your stressors sometimes helps you to perceive the problems differently. There are times when professional input is helpful to create new methods for coping with stress.

Author's Bio: 

Celia Brown is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has a special interest in stress relief strategies. Please visit her website: http://www.PerfectPetStroller.com to find out more about being active with your pet!