Stress should properly be considered as the pressure put on something; strain is the deformation that results. Stress comes to us (speaking on a mental/emotional level, not physical) in the forms of our obligations, responsibilities, our jobs, our schoolwork, or relationships, friends and family, unexpected emergencies, etc. Stress can affect us in many ways, and can have a negative effect on our health. It's important to remember it's not the pressure that hits us—it's whether that pressure bends us out of shape. Stress isn't the problem—strain is. Stress is a trigger for growth. As long as the stress is handled gradually, our mind and bodies can adapt to it, and grow stronger as a result. It's when the stress happens too quickly that we don't accommodate it, and we get strain. The system under strain breaks down.
We all need to learn how to manage our stress, to prevent it from becoming strain. Breathing exercises, physical exercise, meditation, yoga, massage, journaling, healthy eating, calming music, a trip to a favorite environment, etc. All good techniques for unwinding and decompressing. ☺
Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.
- Stephen R. Covey