Is Stress Harmful?

Is stress harmful? Are all types of stress the same? Understand stress so YOU can regain control!

SUMMARY: This article discusses the types of stressors and how not all stress is harmful. Four key facts you should know about stress to better manage it: (1) Stress can be positive or negative; (2) Stress is physiological and it does NOT just affect your mind; (3) Stress responses are highly individual and (4) The duration of stress determines how harmful the effects are. Read further to better understand YOUR stress!


Chronic stress takes a toll on our physical health because stress increases our cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that can cause damage to multiple organs in the body when it is chronically elevated. It also takes a toll on our mental health, putting the person at risk for clinical depression or an anxiety disorder.

Stress is anything that ellicits your body’s stress response. There are 4 facts you must know to fully understand stress: 

1. Stress can be POSITIVE or NEGATIVE.

Negative stress triggers are what we most commonly think about when we hear the word “stress”, such as feeling overwhelmed from an excessive workload or finding ourselves in a difficult financial situation.

However, stress also can be from postive triggers like a wedding or marathon (if you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know how stressful it can be)!

Happy events and things we choose to be a part of can all be stressors, positive or negative. What determines whether our experience of stress is positive or negative is our appraisal of the situation and reaction to it (discussed in more detail below).

2. Stress is NOT just in your mind.  

A psychological stress response ALWAYS accompanies a physiological reaction in your body.

When you are stressed, it affects your body, your mood, your energy, your sleep, and inflammation in your body, even if you might not detect it. This is why stress is such an important component of holistic physical health.

3. Stress responses are highly individual. 

Different people have very different stress responses to different triggers. A husband and wife may cope very differently with the deaths of their respective parents.

Stress responses can also change over time for the same person.

A newly married couple may find their first few fights devastating and cannot think about anything other than resolving the fight. However, 10 years later, the couple has learned how to cope and solve fights effectively, so marital disagreements are still uncomfortable, but no longer as stressful.

We each have to learn how to better deal with our OWN life stressors in a healthier, positive way. No one else can do this work for you. 

4. The DURATION of stress determines how HARMFUL the stress is for our bodies.

Stressors are either short-term (ACUTE) or long-term (CHRONIC).

Our bodies are conditioned to go through moderate amounts of SHORT acute periods of stress (eg. daily challenges that we resolve). Harmful stress is LONG-TERM, chronic stress, which can lead to long-term damage to our body, OR short-term TRAUMATIC stress which can also have long-term consequences.

Now that you understand the types of stress that are harmful to your health, it’s time to go deeber and identify YOUR personal sources of stress in your life. In the next article, learn the 3 FUNDAMENTAL SOURCES OF STRESS in your life so you can be prepared!

Stress management goes hand-in-hand with healthy food, exercise and sleep! In fact, getting enough sleep and exercising are essential ways to become better at coping with stress every day, especially in Ramadan! But, no need to stress out about how you’re going to fit it all in this year! Luckily, we’ve got you covered!

The Ramadan Reset eBook is your complete solution to healthy eating, exercise, sleep, coffee and so much more in Ramadan! With 90 dietitian-created recipes, full fasting fitness schedules for ALL levels, your Ramadan will never be the same! Click HERE to learn more!


  1.  Ghani, F. (2018). Most Muslims say they fast during Ramadan. [online] Pew Research Center. Available at:



Types of Stressors
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