What is stress resistance and how to develop it: advice from psychologists

What is stress resistance and how to develop it: advice from psychologists

Can’t sleep the night before an important meeting? Do you remember every word a few days after the conflict? Do you panic when your boss calls or summons you? You may have a low level of stress tolerance, which is so valued by employers. How to find out if you have this quality and how to develop it, we figured it out with psychologists.

The material was commented on:

Alexandra Menshikova, clinical psychologist, candidate of psychological sciences;

Marina Bondarenko, clinical psychologist, gaming practitioner.

What is stress tolerance

Every time we encounter a stressor, our body triggers a reaction characterized by the release of adrenaline

Stress resistance is the ability to adequately respond to the occurrence of a stressor, making response decisions quickly and effectively, without psychological and physiological consequences for the body.

Throughout our lives, we are regularly exposed to stressors – factors unusual for us that can unsettle us. These can be physical phenomena, for example, extreme cold, heat, pain, high workload, and events in the psychological sphere – conflicts at work, in the family or just on the street, which pose a threat or danger.

Every time we encounter a stressor, our body triggers a stress response characterized by the release of adrenaline. It is also called the “fight and flight” response. (1). You can feel:

  • increased heart rate,
  • lack of air,
  • sudden surge of heat,
  • release of sweat.

A stress-resistant person does not perceive certain events as stressors, so he does not have a physiological reaction and an acute stress reaction. Moreover, he can use such events to his advantage (2). Scientists have differentiated stress into two types:

  • Eustress – this is stress, which not only does not affect the body negatively, but, on the contrary, allows you to accumulate reserves and overcome the impossible. A common example of eustress is a strong threat that causes a person to lift a car or move a very heavy rock. This term is often used in a work context, when deadlines push us to complete work faster.
  • Distress – this type of stress has the exact opposite effect, so strong and negative that it can lower immunity or lead to depression. Typically, distress is stress that a person receives regularly without having time to recover. This accumulates and eventually results in serious health problems.
What is stress resistance and how to develop it: advice from psychologists

Scientists regularly ask the question of what affects stress resistance. Some are trying to find the roots of this ability at the genetic level in connection with birth and life in regions with developed mining (3). But the majority still agree that stress resistance is an individual characteristic that is formed by several factors (4):

  • Physiology. Good health helps you cope with stress on both a physical and psychological level. A healthy lifestyle also develops tolerance to stress.
  • Temperament – For some people, resistance to stress is due to a certain temperament. Phlegmatic and sanguine people adapt to difficult situations much more easily and are less likely to take them to heart.
  • Moral values help to withstand stress if a person sees meaning in what he is doing.
  • Personal character traits. Healthy and adequate self-esteem helps to perceive any criticism and analyze it, and not immediately give a negative reaction.
  • Experience. Previously experienced stressful situations help cope with potential stress.
  • Environment and environment. Supportive friends and family can buffer much of the negative reaction.

Levels of stress tolerance

The most important marker of stress resistance is how much a person, in a situation of uncertainty or sudden change, begins to become involved in his emotions

Psychologists conventionally distinguish three levels of stress resistance (5):


Typical for people who work in emergency services and in places with a high level of responsibility. They are characterized by:

  • peace of mind in emergency situations;
  • fast reaction;
  • formed action plan;
  • calm emotional background;
  • accumulation of energy to solve the problem;
  • the ability to leave negative experiences behind;
  • high level of organization and composure.


This is, in essence, healthy stress resistance:

  • ability to focus on a problem;
  • analysis of what is happening and search for a solution;
  • average emotional involvement;
  • ability to switch to other events;
  • no sleep problems.


Characteristic of a person with a mobile emotional background:

  • any unexpected event causes panic;
  • stupor and slow reaction at the moment when you need to make a decision;
  • everything that happened during the day scrolls through your head in the evening;
  • restless sleep, often insomnia;
  • presence of psychosomatic diseases;
  • inability to plan your time.
What is stress resistance and how to develop it: advice from psychologists

Stress resistance tests

Stress interviews are also often used.  In fact, they put the candidate in an unpleasant position and see how he can get out

Stress interviews are also often used. In fact, they put the candidate in an unpleasant position and see how he can get out

There are several stress resistance tests developed by psychologists, some of which are used by recruiters when applying for a job. (6). Stress interviews are also often used to put a candidate in an unpleasant position and see how he will react.

You can test yourself for stress resistance by taking the simplest test online (7), (8), (9). It usually requires you to do a self-assessment and answer questions like:

  • How do you feel after a fight?
  • How often do you take your anger out on things?
  • Do you often get into conflicts with loved ones or colleagues?
  • Do you have problems sleeping?
  • Are you able to keep your attention on one task for several hours at a time during the day?
  • Do you have enough time to do enjoyable activities or hobbies?
  • Do you consider yourself a quick-tempered person?

How to increase stress resistance

It is recommended to monitor the level of satisfaction with your life; the higher it is, the stronger your tolerance to stress

Here’s what a psychologist recommends to increase stress resistance:

  1. Get proper rest and exercise.
  2. Surround yourself with people who will support you.
  3. Pay attention to your body, the level of tension. If he is tall, help yourself with massage, swimming and other relaxing procedures. Yoga is also good for reducing stress.
  4. Monitor your level of satisfaction with your life. The higher it is, the stronger the tolerance to stress.
  5. Take an individual approach to acquiring emotional regulation skills. Everyone has their own trigger for stress. You need to identify it and learn to “put it on fuse.”
  6. Do not abuse psychoactive products such as alcohol and even coffee and energy drinks.

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