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[Excerpt] What is stress? Dr. Hans Selye, an early researcher on stress, defined it as “the wear and tear caused by living.” Since it is part of life, we cannot avoid it – at work and in our personal lives. In today’s world, we experience situations and circumstances that are typically not really life-threatening. Or we worry about things that might happen or go wrong, but may never actually occur. Our bodies respond to these situations using our natural survival mechanisms – yet these can be an over-response because they evolved to deal with life-threatening events. In many ways, you could say that we are living in the bodies of our ancestors, but in a very different world. We inherited the adaptive responses that enabled them to survive…


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© Cornell University. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Recommended Citation
Brown, N. J. (2019). Occupational stress: Some background with ideas for organizational change [Electronic version]. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Workplace Health and Safety Program.