As much as there are many ways of experiencing stress, there are many ways of defining stress. As a HeartMath™ Trainer and Coach for stress management I tend to prefer this definition:
In essence, stress is emotional unease, the experience of which ranges from low-grade feelings of emotional unrest to intense inner turmoil. Stressful emotions clearly can arise in response to external challenges or events, and also from ongoing internal dialogs and attitudes. Recurring feelings of worry, anxiety, anger, judgment, resentment, impatience, overwhelm and self-doubt often consume a large part of our energy and dull our day-to-day life experiences.
Additionally, emotions, much more so than thoughts alone, activate the physiological changes comprising the stress response. Our research shows a purely mental activity such as cognitively recalling a past situation that provoked anger does not produce nearly as profound an effect on physiological processes as actually engaging the emotion associated with that memory. In other words, re-experiencing the feeling of anger provoked by the memory has a greater effect than thinking about it.
Click here to read more about coping with stress