The short history of stress research has failed to produce a standard definition of stress, let alone provide conclusive findings of the impact of stress (Cooper & Dewe, 2004; Jex, 2002). However, lack of definition and findings has not stopped a seemingly obsessive lamenting among governments, NGO’s, media pundits, management gurus, special interest groups, and the general population about stress being the killer disease of modern times (Manzies, 2005; Oz, 2009). Almost unnoticed in declarations about stress being the killer disease of the century are the following essential points.
- Stress and the concepts underlying stress are nothing new.
- Stress means different things to different people and in different contexts.
- Stress can be a functional force that is vital for survival, growth, and evolution of humans and human systems.
- The programs promoted by the stress industry may exacerbate stress-related illness, encourage dependency on dysfunctional coping strategies, and drain the pocketbook.
Putting aside contemporary dogma that says stress is a global killer disease (Manzies, 2005; Oz, 2009) we can find research and practices that provide a framework for leveraging stress as a functional force in life. For example, cognitive-transactional theories demonstrate how stress is an adaptive response that is mediated by individual characteristics and psychological processes (Schwarzer & Taubert, 2002; Beehr & Newman, 1978; Lazarus, 1991; Hamel & Välikangas, 2003). Also, the systems framework shows that stress is more than a basic survival mechanism--it is also a vital catalyst for development, growth, and wellness (Bertalanffy, 1972; Capra, 1996; Gleick, 2008).
Building on this and other research into functional stress management and resiliency research, this site does the following:
- Reviews the history and research that underlies the contemporary understanding of stress to determine if stress can serve a functional purpose for human and social systems.
- Identifies functional coping strategies that foster growth, adaptability, and wellness in turbulent environments.
- Offers a dynamic interactive adaptability model of stress that integrates observations and findings from philosophical, stimulus-response, cognitive-transactional, and systems perspectives to provide an analytical framework for understanding the impact of environment, events, and culture on human development and wellness.
- Adaptability Practices