Stress Awareness Header

Stress Awareness Header


Any event or situation that requires a nonroutine change in adaptation or behavior. Often it is unfamiliar or creates conflict among motives within the individual. It may pose a challenge or a threat to the individual’s well-being or self-esteem.
Physical Stressor
One that has a direct effect on the body. This may be an external environmental condition (heat, cold, noise) or the internal physical/ physiologic demands of the human body. The body can acclimatize to some degree to some physical stressors.
Mental Stressor
One in which only information reaches the brain with no direct physical impact on the body. This information may place demands on either the cognitive systems (thought processes) or the emotional system (feeling responses, such as anger or fear) in the brain. Appropriate exposure to mental or emotional stressors can increase tolerance to them. Physical stressors can also be mental stressors if they are perceived as dangerous threats.

Combat Stressor

Any stressors occurring during the course of combat-related duties, whether due to enemy action or from the soldier’s own unit, leaders, and mission demands, or the soldier’s home life.
The mobilization of the body and mind to counteract stressors. It involves the physiological reflexes that ready the body for fight or flight. It also involves mental reactions. Effects include decreased blood flow to skin, muscles, and heart; increased sweating; adrenaline release for energy and alertness; muscle tension; and interference with sleep.
Positive Stress
Positive stress (Eustress) is that degree of stress that helps sustain and improve tolerance to physical and emotional stressors without overdoing the experience. Eustress can help the individual to function better, stay alive, and cope. The purpose of stress in nature is to keep individuals in that range of physiological, emotional, and cognitive mobilization that best enables them to survive and reproduce. In military operations, however, the soldier must accomplish the military mission, whether that contributes to individual survival or not.
Relationship of stress to task performance

There is an optimal range of stress for any given task. If there is too little stress, the job may be done haphazardly or not at all, because the individual is easily distracted, makes errors of omission, or falls asleep. If stress is too intense, the individual may be too distractible or too focused on one aspect of the task and may have difficulty knowing when and how to act. Extreme stress may also impair coordination and concentration. With extreme stress, the individual may freeze (become immobilized by fear). Alternately, he or she may become agitated and flee in disoriented panic. If stress persists too long, it can cause physical and mental illnesses. Extreme stress with hopelessness can even result in rapid death.

Physical Fatigue
Weariness and/or decreased performance capability due to hard or prolonged work or effort, muscle tiredness, aerobic fatigue, and sleep deprivation. Physical illness can also bring on fatigue. Intense emotions also produce physical fatigue. This is especially true of anxiety and fear, because they arouse the fight or flight reflexes of the physical stress process.
Mental Fatigue
Impaired performance due to continued mental effort on a specific task, whether it is a task requiring much thinking or constant attention. A brief break often relieves mental fatigue and improves performance. Emotions, such as boredom or uncertainty, also produce mental fatigue.
Misconduct Stress Behaviors
Unacceptable and even criminal ways to discharge or escape stress. Examples include substance abuse, brutal violence, recklessness, desertion, malingering, and fraternization.

Source: U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine

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