Strategies for Coping with Stress
Stress has been defined as a pattern of negative physiological and
psychological processes occurring in situations where people perceive
threats to their well being which they may be unable to meet. These
situations involve stimuli which can be either real or imagines and
are generally known as stressors.
Stressors come in many forms; for example, they can be cataclysmic
such as life disasters including floods and earthquakes and also
things such as rape and abuse. But they can also quite insignificant
things such as being late for work or stuck in traffic – these are
generally known as life’s little hassles.
Although stressors are mainly seen as negative, they can also some be
seen in a positive light such as wining a competition or sitting an
exam as these can affect people’s behaviour in positive ways.
Stress is a biological response that is exposed through an emotion
although the form it takes can vary depending on the nature of the
stressor as we respond differently in a variety of situations.
When a person senses a stressor, the hypothalamus will send a signal
to the autonomic nervous system and also to the pituitary gland these
both respond by stimulating the bodies organs which then change their
normal activities such as an increase in heart rate, blood pressure
and blood sugar levels, air passages also dilate to permit more air
entering the lungs making one’s breathing a lot faster and also the
adrenal glands secrete adrenaline which stimulates the heart and other
body organs. Each of these responses prepares the body to deal with
the stressors, as there is an increased physical and psychological
state of alertness and readiness.
The bodily changes can be maladaptive for the person under stress; for
example, stress produces anxiety, which can reduce one’s ability to
perform a task correctly. There is also the problem of prolonged and
severe stress as many people’s lifestyles can easily produce stressors
and this increases their chances of a stress related illness.
Much of the research regarding stressors and their long-term effects
on the body comes from Seyle’s General Adaptation Syndrome (1956). A
lot of Seyle’s research was based on using laboratory animals and his
results showed that constant exposure to severe stressors produces
three physiological phases, the first phase is alarm reaction, and
this showed the bodies physiological response to a situation with
stressful stimuli. Phase two was known as the stage of resistance in
which if the stressful stimuli (stressor) persists or is not dealt
with correctly the body seeks to maintain arousal at a constant lower
level. The final phase was the stage of exhaustion where by eventually
the continued high arousal levels exhaust the body’s resources
producing both negative...