Everyone in today’s workplace is under pressure. We are living in an era of
uncertainty, with widely fluctuating markets and fiercely competitive business
conditions. Organizations are determined to get more and better work out of fewer
people, and most employees are routinely told they must work smarter, faster, better,
longer and harder. It is no wonder that study after study shows that stress is a growing
In general, we tend to think of stress as something negative; but in fact, it does have
tangible benefits. Stress generates action. It creates a psychological boost that gives
you increased energy and clarity with which to perform well. If channeled correctly,
stress can enhance your performance and the performance of those you manage. Of
course, if channeled incorrectly, stress can be overwhelming and performance will
Stress is derived from the Latin word stringere, meaning to draw tight, and was used
in the 17th century to describe hardships or affliction. During the late 18th century,
stress denoted “force, pressure, strain, or strong effort”, referring primarly to an
individual or to an individual’s organs or mental powers ( Hinkle, 1973 ).
Early definitions of strain and load used in physics and engineering eventually came
to influence one concept of how stress affects individuals. Under the meaning of this
concept, external forces are seen as exerting pressure on an individual, producing
strain. Proponents of this view claim that we can measure physical strain on a
machine or bridge or any physical object.
Although this first concept looked at stress as an outside stimulus, a second concept
defines stress as a person’s response to a disturbance. In 1910, Sir William Osler
explored the idea of stress and strain causing disease when he saw a relationship
between angina pectoris and a hectic pace of life. The
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