Psychology and Stress

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One of things that we all experience is stress. Stress does not judge, it affects the rich, the poor, whites, blacks, male or female, children and adults. Some people may have higher stress levels depending on their livestyles. Stress is the “wear and tear” our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment; it has physical and emotional effects on us and can create positive or negative feeling. As a positive influence, stress can help compel us to action that may result in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective. As a negative influence, it can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger and depression, which in turn can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach rashes, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke or depression. “Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide” World Health Organization. Depression is also the leading cause of suicides, “The second leading cause of death among college students is suicide” Hardy. Many times, however, stress can become chronic and may last for a week or more. This chronic condition often results from humans’ ability to project their thoughts into the future, such as when a person keeps a recurrent and stressful thought in his or her mind.

Stress may be considered as any physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and that may be a factor in disease causation. Physical and chemical factors that can cause stress can include trauma, infections, toxins, illnesses, and injuries of any sort. Emotional causes of stress and tension are numerous and varied. While many people associate the term “stress” with psychological stress, scientists and physicians use this term to denote any force that impairs the stability and balance of bodily functions.

Stress is the combination of psychological and behavioral reactions that people have in response to events that threaten or challenge them. Stress can be good or bad. Sometimes, stress is helpful providing people with the extra energy or alertness’ they need. Stress could give the runner the edge he or she needs to persevere in a marathon, for example. Moreover, stress can increase the risk of developing health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and anxiety disorders. This bad kind of stress is called distress, the kind of stress that people usually are referring to when they use the word stress. A convenient way to think about stress is in the terms of stressors and stress responses. Stressors are events that lead to stress, such as having to make decisions, getting married and natural disasters. Stress responses are psychological, psychological and behavioral reactions to stressors. Anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties and muscle tension are all example of stress responses. The connection between stressors and stress responses however, is not as straight forward as it may seem. Mediating processes, for instance, stand in between stressors and stress responses. Whether stressors lead to stress responses depends on mediating processes like how people appraise potential stressors and how well people are able to cope with the negative impact of stressors. Furthermore, a number of moderation factors, such as personality traits and health habits, influence the links between stressors and stress responses. “These mediating processes and moderating factors help determine whether people experience stress-related problems like burnout, mental disorders, and physical illness and are the focus of many stress management techniques that emphasize cognitive-behavioral approaches, relaxation, exercise, diet and nutrition and medication.” (Smither 1994)

Sources of stress stressors, the sources of stress, include three types of events, referred to as daily hassles, major life events and catastrophes. Additionally specific types of stressors occurs within certain domains in life such as family, work and school. Stressors...
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