Intuitively, we all feel that we know what stress is, as it is something we have all experienced. A definition should therefore be obvious - except that it is not.
Stress comes in all forms and affects persons of all ages and all walks of life. No external standards can be applied to predict stress levels in individuals - one need not have a traditionally stressful job to experience workplace stress, just as a parent of one child may experience more parental stress than a parent of several children. The degree of stress in our lives is highly dependent upon individual factors such as our physical health, the quality of our interpersonal relationships, the number of commitments and responsibilities we carry, the degree of others' dependence upon and expectations of us, the amount of support we receive from others, and the number of changes or traumatic events that have recently occurred in our lives.
Manifestations of excess or poorly-managed stress can be extremely varied. While many persons report that stress induces headaches, sleep disturbances, feelings of anxiety or tension, anger or concentration problems, others may complain of depression, lack of interest in food, increased appetite or any number of other symptoms. In severe situations one can experience overwhelming stress to the point of so-called "burnout," with little or no interest in day-to-day activities.
Exercise: Physical exercise not only promotes overall fitness, but it helps you to manage emotional stress and tension as well. For one thing, exercise can emotionally remove one temporarily from a stressful environment or situation. Being fit and healthy also increases your ability to deal with stress as it arises.