Additional Demands


"Stress is any additional demand
made upon a person."

Veninga, B. and Spradley, J. (1981). The work / stress connection.

We like this definition for at least two major reasons.

First, it's very straightforward and easy to understand. All of us go along through our day working on the task at hand, which defines a kind of "baseline" for our experience. Then something else needs to be attended to in addition to whatever else we have going on: if you are a teacher, what if there's a fire drill right in the middle of a crucial part of a lesson we're working on with our students. Two kids in the back of the room need special attention -- again -- for their acting out behaviors. The principal comes in for an unannounced observation. A call from day care indicates that your two-year-old is running a high fever. Any additional demand made on a person.

Second, it's a definition which at least indirectly introduces the notion that not all stresses are BAD. For example, jogging adds significant short-term physiological stress to the body; but, paradoxically, it is a major stress-reliever for many people because it strengthens their body, refreshes them, gives them a new perspective on an otherwise busy day. Or any additional intellectual demand -- whether understanding a new teaching concept or engaging in a spirited conversation with a friend or colleague -- can be considered a stressor, too. So anyone interested in stress management should avoid all physical or intellectual demands , right? WRONG! Not all stressors are "bad."

The issue for all of us centers on the
of the additional demands and our capacity to
effectively enough the competing demands on our limited time and energy.