Definition of Stress

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines stress as,

“The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them.”

The HSE also emphasises that it is important not to medicalise stress, as stress is a state, not an illness; however, if mismanaged it can lead to the development of mental and physical illnesses.

The HSE also states the difference between pressure and stress. Pressure can be positive and a motivating factor, and is often essential in a job. It can help us achieve our goals and perform better. Stress occurs when this pressure becomes excessive. Stress is a natural reaction to too much pressure.

A person can experience excessive pressure and demands outside work just as much as they can at work. Stress tends to build up over time because of a combination of factors that may not all be work related. Conflicting demands at work and home can cause excessive stress.