Understanding and Managing Stress

Stress is a Big Deal in America!

1. 92% of Americans believe stress negatively impacts health, but only 31% believe stress negatively affects their health.

2. Half of all Americans suffered a major stressful event or experience in the past year, and a quarter of these reported a great deal of stress in the past month.

3. Top symptoms of stress among Americans:

  • 42% irritability
  • 39% anxiety
  • 37% fatigue
  • 37% feeling sad
  • 35% low energy
  • 32% not enough sleep

4. Managing stress ranks second (61%) among Americans, behind having good family/friend relations (76%), when it comes to the importance of well-being.

5. Nearly half of Americans state that they are poor at preventing or managing stress.
(APA, Stress in America 2014)

What is stress?

When I first began to study stress, stress was viewed by many as a medical phenomenon. I came to the conclusion that negative psychological stress, or “distress,” had to do with the gap between our expectations and the real world.

As my research evolved I gained a broader understanding of stress:

  • The Human Stress Response is “the biophysical means by which the body attempts to mobilize itself for resolving a real or perceived threat to its survival.”
  • The conditions under which stress occurs is “the mismatch between our coping skills and the demands of the environment.”*

* This had been my original definition of psychological stress

How can I manage stress?

Refer to Dan McGee, PhD’s article “Coping Skills: How We Develop Them” for an introduction into managing stress, as well as other articles related to stress. And you may want to consider using Dan’s ABCs of Stress® Model from his Choosing Balance book to help you to better understand the various dimensions of stress. He demonstrates how unhealthy behaviors are driven by irrational, non-conscious beliefs and provides you a personalized stress management plan to bring unhealthy feelings and behaviors back into balance.

He goes further into the management of stress by providing instruction and worksheets you can use to identify unhealthy thought patterns and select healthy thought patterns to rehearse.


Click on each article to download.

  • What We Need to Know about Depression When Self-inflicted Death Occurs: Dr. McGee wrote this article to help others cope when self-inflicted death occurs to someone around you.
  • Understanding Depression: In this piece, Dr. McGee discusses depression and suicide. It includes a short list of symptoms of depression. McGee states “Depression is often the most curable condition we have in mental health.” A brief introduction that may be shared with those you love whom you suspect may be suffering from depression.
  • Coping Skills Definition: Used by Dr. McGee in his stress management certification seminars to provide a clearer understanding of coping skills, how they relate to the ABCs of Stress(R), including an example and word of caution in developing them.
  • Coping Skills Development: Used by Dr. McGee in stress management certification seminars to provide a theoretical foundation based on Bandera’s Social Cognitive Theory.