Dr. Bernardino Vicente, director of the National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City, Philippines, says the first step is to know the various forms of these stressors.
Normal garden-variety stressors include eustress, a productive kind of stress.
The pressure parents exert on a child to study is an example.
"Parents frequently admonish their children to study more or promise him a bike if he
gets good grades--that pressure on the child is productive stress," says Vicente
Serious but unproductive forms of stress.
Examples include losing your job or a death in the family.
Internal stress is psychological.
: "[It's up to you.] Your doctor says you have goiter and you may have to undergo an operation.
A high level of lead in the air may cause road rage, according to Vicente
Social stress results from interaction with people, such as constant rejection by others, or achieving popularity but always finding yourself talked about negatively.
Personal circumstances and standards, like having financial problems or believing you are unattractive, are great stressors.
Your boss may just want a one-page report, but because you expect much of yourself, you become stressed by the assignment.
Traumatic stresses are life-threatening or life-changing situations: seeing a relative die in a traumatic way, being kidnapped or experiencing disaster.
"We've seen this kind of stress in Bicol [a southern region in the Philippines], where people get flashbacks of what happened when the supertyphoons hit their homes," says Vicente
"Rescue and emergency workers, police officers, surgeons--these [people] are all [exposed to] very stressful work," says Vicente
"A person suffering from the syndrome is often tired and [no] drive," relates Vicente
"One symptom of burnout is a change in values.
You see this in government agencies, where there is too much frustration in the bureaucracy," he
"Employees lose their initiative and idealism.
They just go through the motions of working."
Constant stress also manifests physically, says Vicente
"Many illnesses, like asthma, migraines, ulcers and certain skin disorders, are exacerbated or made worse by stress."
The notion that too much stress can kill also has basis.
"There are people with what is called a cardiac personality--aggressive, hostile, very competitive," says Vicente