Stress vs. Stressor

According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, 84% of adults reported feeling stressed out. Two-thirds say that they feel overwhelmed by the issues they face.

This is no way to live, much less thrive.

In this episode, we’re going to talk about the importance of distinguishing between stress and stressors. Because this can be the first step toward reducing their negative effects, both on our bodies and on our lives.


  1. When we believe that stress is damaging to our health or our performance, it actually does more damage. 
  2. Remembering that the stress response primes our bodies and brains to perform at their best can change how we experience the physical effects of stress.
  3. When we can distinguish between the stressors from the stress, we can deal with each of them more effectively.
  4. Even when we feel we have no control over the stressor, we can take steps to deal with the effects of our stress response.

Lab Experiment

Next time you hear yourself saying (even to yourself) “I’m so stressed!” or “This is so stressful!” we want you to stop and take these 4 steps. 

Step 1: Identify the stressor–as specifically as you can. What exactly about this situation is challenging and why?

Step 2: Consider your options for dealing with the stressor. Are there steps you could take to make this situation less stressful? (Don’t forget that asking for help is always a great action step.)

Step 3: Remind yourself that stress is not your enemy. It allows you to do your best work and your best problem-solving. If now is the time for action, use that state of activation to your advantage. 

Step 4: If now is not the time for action (or you’ve taken whatever action you can), signal to your body and brain that it’s safe to relax. Get some exercise, do something that makes you laugh, cuddle with your partner or pet the dog.