Russian Language Blog

On Stress Posted by on Jan 11, 2011 in language


We’ve talked about word stress before, so this time we’re talking stress as in “feeling pressured”. 

How’s your post-holiday stress level? I know mine is running pretty high what with all the resolutions. «У меня стресс из-за этих решений.» [I’m stressed because of these resolutions].

«Стресс» [stress] «прочно вошёл» [has come to stay] into the Russian life, both as a «слово» [word] and a «состояние» [condition].

  • «У меня от стресса голова болит.» [I have a headache because of stress]
  • «Как бороться со стрессом» [How to fight stress]
  • «Что является причиной стресса?» [What are the causes of stress?]

An adjective is «стрессовый» which is best translated as “stress-inducing” as in

  • «У меня очень стрессовая работа.» [My job is very stressful.] To which I want to reply «А у кого нет?!» [And whose isn’t?]
  • «Даже стрессовые активы могут приносить прибыль.» [Even distressed assets can be profitable.]

Not to stress you out here, but using “stress” as a verb in Russian is actually either very simple or very challenging, depending on the situation. The easy way is to use the verb «стрессовать» [to stress] and disregard ensuing criticism. The verb is definitely out there, but not widely used. And when it is used, it’s mostly in informal conversations.

Unfortunately, there’s simply no way to both speak proper Russian and form a verb from the noun «стресс». Instead, you’d have to do it in a round-about way and use the noun:

  • «У меня стресс.» [I’m stressed.]
  • «Не прибавляй мне стресса.» [Don’t stress me out.]
  • «У него стресс по пустякам.» [He is stressed out over nothing.]

Fortunately, there’s a great solution to this stressful situation (of trying to re-phrase the entire sentences). You see, before «стресс» entered our lives, we used to simply «нервничать» [be stressed]. Let’s use this word instead of «стресс» in the above examples:

  • «Я нервничаю.» [I’m stressed.]
  • «Не заставляй меня нервничать.» [Don’t stress me out.]
  • «Он нервничает по пустякам.» [He’s stressed out over nothing.]

Notice that to stress someone is «заставлять нервничать» while to be stressed is simply «нервничать». The root of both words is «нерв» [nerve] which totally makes sense. After all, someone or something who «действовать на нервы» [gets on one’s nerves] is a major stressor.

A more informal way of saying that something stresses you out is to say «это меня напрягает» [it is a hassle]. For example, people who suffer from «синдром понедельника» [Monday morning syndrome] say that «понедельник их напрягает» [Monday is a hassle for them].

A situation that is stressful is «напряжённая обстановка» [tense atmosphere]. The opposite of such a situation is «дружеская обстановка» [friendly atmosphere] or «непринуждённая обстановка» [laidback atmosphere].

The verb «принуждать» [to force] in its perfective aspect is «принудить». While «нужда» and «нуда» used to both mean “need”, «нуда» eventually changed to mean a downer, a joy kill. Many Americans are familiar with this latter meaning through “nudnik”.

Official definition of nudnik is someone who’s a boring pest and/or a persistent nag. And that’s exactly what Russian word «зануда» means. The verb is «нудить» – to nag and the adjective is «нудный». This is not to be confused with «нужный» [needed]. Needless to say, a conversation with зануда can be a very stressful one.

«Что вас напрягает?» «Что действует вам на нервы?» «Что создаёт вам стресс?» In short, what stresses you out? Feel free to share. Oh, and if nothing does, then please-please share your secret of «борьба со стрессом» [fighting stress].

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  1. Joe:

    Great article, thanks!

    Q: where does the “stress” fall on the word пустякам?

    No pun intended, I promise! Just noticed it wasn’t placed in the article 😉

    • yelena:

      @Joe Oh, sorry, I must’ve missed this word when formatting. Ok, it should be “пустякам” with the stress on the “а”.

  2. Saint Facetious:

    It’s time to be proper and just make your own verb from стресс! How else do we get such wonderful words like копировать without someone just making it up somewhere along the line? Стессовать sounds like a fine enough word to me. 🙂

  3. Saint Facetious:

    Oh, and by the way Yelena, you picked out some fantastic vocab words which I’ll definitely be using in the near future. Thanks!

    • yelena:

      @Saint Facetious Saint, I hope you’re not too stressed out. In any case, не парься, оно того не стоит! 🙂