Know about Sources of STRESS

Hans Seyle was the first to research and define stress and maintains that it is a non-specific response of the body to a demand. Carson however expands stress to mean, "the adjustive demands placed on an organism and to the organism's internal biological responses to such demands. " In short, it simply means the body responding to actual or anticipated difficulties in daily life and "organism" is looked upon as any living organism - not only the human organism. 

The adjustments required are referred to as stressors and the effects the stressors create within an organism are referred to as stress. Wilder and Plutchik states that some stressors produce good stress, or eustress, and others produce bad stress, or distress.

The Natures of Stress:

There are various types of stress. They include:

a. Everyday stress : a process of ongoing adaptation by a person in any situation that requires adjustment, whether the adjustment is positive or negative and creates stress.

b. Cumulative stress : adaptation becomes diminished due to prolonged high arousal and anxiety (i.e. the person finds difficulties to adjust).

c. Critical incident stress : adaptation is temporarily disabled due to the impact of a critical incident (person about to give up).

d. Burnout : adaptation is diminished due to prolonged disillusionment, leading to collapse both psychologically and physically (the person gives in).

e. Post-traumatic stress disorder : adaptation is over whelmed as the person is severely traumatized and

f. Critical incident stress disorder: coping is disabled due to prolonged critical incident stress (the person requires assistance).

Sources of Stress:

Carson suggests that the sources of stress arise from three basic categories. They are:

a. Frustration occurs when a person is striving toward a desired goal and an obstacle blocks his progress, or when there is an absence of an appropriate goal. Frustration can lead to feeling of devalued self, failure or incompetence.

b. Environment obstacles may pressure the person to decide and act in ways that lead to internal conflict or external conflict with others.

c. Internal conflicts can arise when choices have to be made. Carson states "the key element in conflict is often the frustration that will result from either choice"

Types of Stressors:

There are 5 major types of stressors. They are:

a. Biological variables : such as illness and physical exertions

b. Environmental circumstances : forces in the person's surroundings (e.g. noise, overcrowding, poverty, natural disasters)

c. Life situations : death of close friends, children going away

d. Behaviors : smoking, poor eating habits

e. Cognitive Activities : sitting for exams, mental challenges

Factors Influencing the Severity of Stress:

a. The Nature of Stressors :

The impact of stresor depends on its nature, which is comprised of its perceived : 
i) Importance : loss of job against loss of promotion
ii) Duration : length of time unemployed
iii) Cumulative effect : lousy boss, quarrel(s), loss of job 
iv) Multiplicity : loss of job PLUS illness PLUS accident 
v) Imminence : how soon can the stress situation be removed

b. Individual Stress Tolerance and Inner Resources:

i) Perception of the threat - how threatening is it?
ii) Tolerance to stress - how long can I bear this?
iii) Inner resources - how much "inner" strength do I possess? 

c. Stages in the Stress Syndrome: 
i) An alarm stage : the body begins to response

ii) A stage of resistance : the body fights

iii) A stage of exhaustion : the body gives up
How stress affect the person (body) :

Under stress the body set off the "alarm reaction" that activates the hypothalamus gland (located at the base of the brain) to release certain chemical substance called "hormones" that in turn triggers the pituitary gland (also located in the brain) to release "adrenocorticotropic hormones" (ACTH) into the person's bloodstream. ACTH travels to the adrenal gland (above the kidneys) that releases other type of hormones call "glucocortiocoids" and " adrenaline". The latter increases the heart rate and blood pressure. Those hormones supply immediate energy to the body and suppress the activities of the body's immune system. The person is now said to be under "stress".

Methods for Adjusting to Stress Developed from Clinical Psychology:

Methods developed from clinical psychology for adjusting to stress includes:

i) Progressive relaxation techniques, which involve the tightening and relaxing various muscles groups throughout the body in a progressive manner.

ii) Behavioral modification techniques, which involves that construction of a stress hierarchy which lists in order of rising concern (i.e. situation the offers the lowest stress to the highest stress) the degree of stress felt with each step in the perceived event (this procedure may not succeed in eliminating all fears but will enable the individual to function and maintain control)

iii) Cognitive techniques, which concentrate upon the individual thinking about his problems and the ways in which this thinking style may be changed or adjusted to improve coping.

Alternative Techniques in Stress Control:

Guided imagery, various forms of concentrative meditation, yoga and other forms of breath control can be utilized to control stress. Clark identifies thress forms of guided imagery for therapeutic use:

* Receptive : this assists the person to become more aware of the causes of his bodily and psychological discomfort,

* Healting : this relives the effects of perceived stresses and enhances general well being,

* Problem solving : this enhances the mind's capacity to generate solutions. By 
Jeffrey Po 


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