Santa Clara University


What is Stress?

Stress is the perception of a threat or demand combined with the perception that our responses are inadequate.

Function: Be Alert! Pay Attention!

Fight/Flight Response: An automatic physiological response designed to ensure physical survival:

This response was once very adaptive, but may be an over-reaction to stressors in modern life.

Watch this video from UT Austin about the fight or flight response!

Some stress is good for you!

Eustress is healthy stress:

Distress is when your body and mind's stress response is prolonged, and the "alerting response" fails to cease. When this occurs, your stress symptoms build in intensity and you experience unhealthy stress and anxiety. When our behaviors are inconsistent with our values, we experience a type of stress known as cognitive dissonance.

There are different ways people react to stress, which produce different kinds of symptoms:

Click here for a Stress Symptoms Checklist (PDF 1.47MB) is adopted from Kate Young, Ph.D. and designed to help you better understand how you react to stress.  Think about your symptoms during the past two weeks.  This will not generate a score and is for your reflection.  We encourage you to keep a record of the completed checklist to monitor changes and improvements in your stress symptoms.

The Stress Symptoms Checklist is a clickable PDF form. The form works in Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari, but does not always work in Firefox. If you are having trouble selecting checkboxes, please download the PDF to your computer to use it.

This program was designed in 2013 by Santa Clara University Counseling & Psychological Services. To use any material from this site, you must seek permission from the Cowell Center Director.