Manage Your Stress Chapter 21

Beat Stress with Friendship & Community


Your connections to loved ones are crucial to keeping stress at bay

Whether you spend time with your friends exercising, sharing a meal, or swapping stories about your stressful day, you are relieving stress. In a Dutch study, fourth-grade kids who had been excluded or rejected at school were found to have elevated levels of cortisol during the school day. They also had a smaller decline in cortisol over the course of a day than their peers who were hanging out with friends.

Adults need their best buddies, too. Researchers at the Gallup polling organization found that people who said that their best friend worked with them were seven times more likely to be top performers at work. Their recommendation for maximizing stress relief: Aim to spend at least six hours a day connecting with friends, family and colleagues. That may seem like a lot, but it includes at work, home, on the phone, e-mailing or any other form of communication.


Also called: Psychological stress

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Not all stress is bad. All animals have a stress response, and it can be life-saving. But chronic stress can cause both physical and mental harm.

There are at least three different types of stress:

  • Routine stress related to the pressures of work, family, and other daily responsibilities
  • Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness
  • Traumatic stress, which happens when you are in danger of being seriously hurt or killed. Examples include a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster. This type of stress can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Different people may feel stress in different ways. Some people experience digestive symptoms. Others may have headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger, and irritability. People under chronic stress get more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold. Vaccines, such as the flu shot, are less effective for them.

Some people cope with stress more effectively than others. It's important to know your limits when it comes to stress, so you can avoid more serious health effects.

NIH: National Institute of Mental Health


The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.