Although we work in both the curative and preventative aspects of Excess-stress and Post-slow-stress fatigue (P-s-s f), we are always clinically-led. We are clinicians working in one specialist area. Stress.
The way we at the National institutes for clinical research into stress (Nicrs) describe the different types of stress, its stages and their associated symptoms are often different to the terminologies used by stress management companies and consultants who are not clinically-led.
The reason is that the needs of our therapists, when they work with their patients or clients - and when they communicate with other health professionals - are rather different to those of commercial organisations, who tend to work largely with other organisations to prevent cases of Excess-stress amongst their employees.
For example, our work originally stemmed from observations and research undertaken by us in areas of paramilitary conflict. This work helped our founder institution to develop new ways of helping people who had been involved in violence by paramilitary organisations - largely shootings and bombings. We call the psychological shock caused by these unexpected events 'Sudden-event trauma'.
Anxiety caused by slowly developing situations - like those commonly seen in the workplace or at home - is called 'Slow-stress' by Registered Stress Practitioners.
Another case where some stress managers differ to us at Nicrs is how some of them describe low levels of anxiety. Many describe 'acceptable' levels of stress as 'pressure' (or even, reasonably enough, as 'low-level anxiety'!) - taking the viewpoint that all 'stress' is harmful. Or, put another way, that only harmful levels of stress should be called 'stress' at all.
We take a different stance on this: Because our observations support the supposition that harmful stress is caused by the same elements that create milder forms of worry, that most people cope with relatively easily, we designate stress differently:
Useful-stress is the level of concern, worry or anxiety (you choose which of those words you prefer!) with which you can currently cope. 'Currently' is the key word here - the intensity of concern (etc) you have in your life can remain at similar levels, yet you can suddenly feel that your stress has reached a degree which is no longer comfortable. Or it can be that, simply, you have a lot more things to worry about.
Whatever the reason, once you feel that your concern, worry or anxiety is above a comfortable level, then it becomes:
The classic signs of someone with Excess-stress are known to us all: nail-biting, lip sucking, an underlying feeling that there's something about which you should be highly-alert, a bit frightened. Sometimes quite a bit frightened.
Excess-stress has huge psychological and physiological implications and is, with Post-slow-stress fatigue (P-s-sf) the single most common reason for absence from work. Much of this website deals with Excess-stress - and there's more on it in the About Stress section.
Many people who've experienced Excess-stress for some time, enter a new stage, where instead of being very alert and on edge, they become exhausted, quiet and often have feelings of depression. We call this
Observations of people in this stage support the supposition that we can only sustain the high-levels of anxiety associated with Excess-stress for a limited time.
There is much to learn about this stage of Slow-stress, but research is being undertaken into links with Post-slow-stress fatigue and challenges to our immune systems after periods of anxiety. A number of scientists are examining the disease Myalgic Encephalopathy (sometimes known as Chronic fatigue syndrome or Post-viral fatigue syndrome).
People at this stage of slow-stress - or those who know someone - should read this.
More on Useful-stress.
More on Excess-stress
More on Post-slow-stress fatigue (P-s-s f ).
None of our use of terminology means that our ways of describing stress are 'better' than those used by others working in stress. Fantastic work is being undertaken by stress management consultants and psychologists working in this field. It's just that we have evolved a collection of terms that our patients, clients and other health professionals prefer and, which, at least for us, produce more clarity and, work better overall than those that were used previously.