Stress is the "wear and tear" our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment. Whether we like it or not, stress is part and parcel of life. It can affect us both physically and emotionally and can create positive or negative feelings.
Stress can be good and we call this positive stress. Positive stress helps us to concentrate, focus and it can also literally help us to survive. Our physical stress response helps us to meet challenging situations and is an automatic and essential fact of life. Positive stress helps compel us to action; it can result in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective.
Our physical reaction to stress is always the same, but with negative stress, our body stays geared up and doesn’t relax. The over-arousal distresses us and causes performance to decline. This approach to stress is illustrated in the "inverted U" graph. (Fig.1). When stress becomes chronic and ongoing, our physical and emotional health can suffer.
According to the graph, our performance peaks when there is optimal arousal but performance decreases when the arousal level is too high. What is crucial to realise is that each one of us has a different stress requirement for optimal performance.