Basic Concepts of Stress

Topics: Anxiety, Stress, Personality type Pages: 15 (4721 words) Published: April 11, 2013
We generally use the word "stress" when we feel that everything seems to have become too much - we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is considered as stress. Stress is defined as our response to events that disrupt, or threaten to disrupt our physical or psychological functioning. It is an internal state which can be caused by physical demands on the body or by environmental and social situations which are evaluated as potentially harmful, uncontrollable, or exceeding our resources for coping. Like pain, stress is a common human experience. We are all familiar with stressful events: your heart races as you sit down to write a test; or the boss wants to see you now about the last quarter’s sales figures; or you go to bed, only to hear a neighbour’s stereo blaring away. The pulse-pounding, gut-wrenching sensations that result from such moments are common in modern life, and are definitely very stressful. It is important to consider the impact of individual differences in the creation of stress because we all have different definitions of what we consider to be a stressor – a cause of a stress. Stressors are also defined as any event, real or imagined, cognitive, environmental or biological, that leads to stress. Stressors vary for different people (e.g. dogs are warm and friendly for some, for others they are a source of anxiety) but the body can also respond to stress of which it is not conscious, like suppressed memories. Stress, therefore, is a deeply personal experience, and it shares with emotion the three components of subjective interpretative experience – physiological reaction, cognitive reaction and behavioural expression. Despite the wide range of stimuli that can potentially produce stress, it appears that many events we find stressful share characteristics: (i) They are so intense that they produce a state of overload – we can no longer adapt to them. (ii) They evoke incompatible tendencies in us, such as tendencies both to approach and to avoid some object or activity. (iii) They are uncontrollable and beyond our limits of control. II. TYPES OF STRESS:-

(i) Eustress (Positive Stress)
Eustress stress occurs when your level of stress is high enough to motivate you to move into action to get things accomplished, e.g. stress experienced during a wedding, sudden and unexpected promotion. Much of the research on eustress has focused on its presence in the workplace. In the workplace, stress can often be interpreted as a challenge, which generally denotes positive eustress. Relationships have been shown between how one appraises an occupational stress and how one chooses a coping style. (ii) Distress (Negative Stress)

Distress stress occurs when your level of stress is either too high or too low and your body and/or mind begin to respond negatively to the stressors, e.g. stress experienced during a funeral. Distress is an aversive state in which a person is unable to adapt completely to stressors and their resulting stress and shows maladaptive behaviors. It can be evident in the presence of various phenomena, such as inappropriate social interaction like aggression, passivity or withdrawal. III. MODELS OF STRESS:-

(i) General Adaptation Syndrome
Scientist Hans Selye (1907-1982) introduced the General Adaptation Syndrome model of stress in 1936, showing in three phases what the alleged effects of stress has on the body. In his work, Selye, 'the father of stress research,' developed the theory that stress is a major cause of disease because chronic stress causes long-term chemical changes. He observed that the body would respond to any external biological source of stress with a predictable biological pattern in an attempt to restore the body’s internal homeostasis. This initial hormonal reaction is our fight or...
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