Pressure Vs Stress
December 23, 2021
This evening, I had an interesting realization after a hectic and pressure-filled day with a few challenging situations needing my attention.
The world around us constantly makes demands on our time, focus, energy, and skills. We feel pressure when we need to perform or deliver something important to us. It is perfectly fine to feel pressure from these demands because it helps us focus and perform better in most situations.
The problem comes when we don’t process the pressure properly. Then, somewhere along the way, the external pressure turns into internal stress. We experience stress when we feel overwhelmed by too many demands upon us when we feel unable to cope with whatever we face. Stress is our brain’s attempt to deal with external pressure, which it sees as a threat.
From my school Physics, I remember the definition of pressure as the amount of force APPLIED per unit area. In contrast, the definition of stress is the amount of force per unit area EXPERIENCED by a material.
The exact Physics definition applies very nicely to our life too. Pressure is the external demand on us, while stress is our internal experience of the external pressure. The pressure in itself is not a bad thing. However, it is our response, our experience of the external pressure that is the problem.
How do we moderate our response and ensure that we don’t get tripped by stress? You can read about it in my Blog, Three Ways To Manage Your Stress.