Everyone needs a certain amount of stress to live well. It's what gets you out of bed in the morning and gives you the vitality and zest to do all sorts of things, such as sport and presentations.
Stress becomes a problem - 'distress' - when there's too much or too little. A lack of stress means your body is understimulated, leaving you feeling bored and isolated. In an effort to find stimulation, many people do things that are harmful to themselves (such as taking drugs) or society (for instance, committing a crime).
Too much stress, on the other hand, can result in a range of health problems including headaches, stomach upsets, high blood pressure and even stroke or heart disease. It can also cause feelings of distrust, anger, anxiety and fear, which in turn can destroy relationships at home and at work.
People often feel over-stressed as a result of some event or trigger. This doesn't have to be negative (such as the death of a loved one, redundancy or divorce); it can also be seemingly positive (a new partner, new job or going on holiday). Such feelings can also be acute (as the result of a death or loss of a job) or chronic (coping with long-term unemployment or being in a bad relationship).