Unformatted text preview: Stress and Health Psychology ENDURING ISSUES • Person–Situa5on To what extent do the methods that people use in coping with stress depend on the environment in which they ﬁnd themselves? ENDURING ISSUES (con’t) • Mind–Body Can psychological stress cause physical illness? ENDURING ISSUES (con’t) • Diversity–Universality To what extent do people respond diﬀerently to severe stress? SOURCES OF STRESS SOURCES OF STRESS The term stressor refers to any environmental demand that creates a state of tension or threat (stress) and requires change or adapta5on (adjustment). Many situa5ons prompt us to change our behavior in some way, but only some cause stress. Some events, such as wars and natural disasters, are inherently stressful. Everyday events or good things can also cause stress, because they necessitate a change or adapta5on. Change All stressful events involve change. But most people have a strong preference for order, con5nuity, and predictability in their lives. So, anything-‐-‐good or bad-‐-‐that requires change has the poten5al to be experienced as stressful. The more change required, the more stressful the situa5on. Everyday Hassles Stress is generated by “hassles,” life’s peTy annoyances, irrita5ons, and frustra5ons. Major and minor events are stressful, since they lead to feelings of pressure, frustra7on, and conﬂict. • Pressure is a feeling that one must speed up, intensify, or change the direc5on of one’s behavior or live up to a higher standard of performance. Frustra7on is the feeling that occurs when a person is prevented from reaching a goal. Many things lead to frustra5on: delays lack of resources losses failure discrimina5on Conﬂict refers to the simultaneous existence of incompa5ble demands, opportuni5es, needs, or goals. Kurt Lewin described two opposite tendencies of conﬂict: approach and avoidance. When something aTracts us, we want to approach it; when something frightens us, we try to avoid it. Lewin (1935) showed how diﬀerent combina5ons of these tendencies create three basic types of conﬂict: approach/approach -‐ the result of simultaneous aTrac5on to two appealing possibili5es, neither of which has any nega5ve quali5es. avoidance/avoidance -‐ the result of facing a choice between two undesirable possibili5es, neither of which has any posi5ve quali5es. approach/avoidance -‐ the result of being simultaneously aTracted to and repelled by the same goal. Self-‐Imposed Stress Some5mes, however, people create problems for themselves quite apart from stressful events in their environment. Psychologists argue that many people carry around a set of irra5onal, self-‐defea5ng beliefs that add unnecessarily to the normal stresses of living. Stress and Individual Diﬀerences • Seeing a challenging situa5on as an opportunity for success rather than failure is typically associated with posi5ve emo5ons such as eagerness, excitement, and conﬁdence. • People’s overall view of the world also aﬀects how well they cope with stress. • Op7mists, who tend to appraise events as challenges rather than threats, are generally beTer able to cope with stressful events than are pessimists, who are more likely to dwell on failure. • People with an internal locus of control see themselves as being able to aﬀect their situa5ons, while those with an external locus of control are more likely to appraise events nega5vely. • People with a trait referred to as hardiness tolerate stress excep5onally well. They also feel that they control their own des5nies and are conﬁdent about being able to cope with change. • Individuals who have liTle conﬁdence that they can master new situa5ons and can exercise control over events feel powerless and apathe5c. • People with a trait referred to as resilience, or the ability to “bounce back,” recovering one’s self-‐
conﬁdence, good spirits, and hopeful aatude aber extreme or prolonged stress, become well-‐adjusted adults. Coping with Stress Direct Coping Direct coping refers to inten5onal eﬀorts to change an uncomfortable situa5on. Direct coping tends to be problem-‐oriented and to focus on the immediate issue. When we are threatened, frustrated, or in conﬂict, we have three basic choices for coping directly: Confronta7on -‐ acknowledging a stressful situa5on directly and aTemp5ng to ﬁnd a solu5on to the problem or to aTain the diﬃcult goal. Compromise -‐ deciding on a more realis5c solu5on or goal when an ideal solu5on or goal is not prac5cal. Withdrawal -‐ avoiding a situa5on when other forms of coping are not prac5cal. Defensive Coping There are 5mes when we either cannot iden5fy or cannot deal directly with the source of our stress. In such situa5ons, people may turn to defense mechanisms as a way of coping. Defense mechanisms are techniques for deceiving oneself about the causes of a stressful situa5on to reduce pressure, frustra5on, conﬂict, and anxiety. Freud proposed that defense mechanisms are en5rely unconscious, but not all psychologists agree. Oben we realize that we are pushing something out of our memory or are otherwise deceiving ourselves. Types of defense mechanisms: Denial -‐ refusal to acknowledge a painful or threatening reality. Repression -‐ excluding uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and desires from consciousness. Projec7on -‐ aTribu5ng one’s repressed mo5ves, feelings, or wishes to others. Iden7ﬁca7on -‐ taking on the characteris5cs of someone else to avoid feeling incompetent. Types of defense mechanisms (con’t): Regression -‐ rever5ng to childlike behavior and defenses. Intellectualiza7on -‐ thinking abstractly about stressful problems as a way of detaching oneself from them. Reac7on forma7on -‐ expression of exaggerated ideas and emo5ons that are the opposite of one’s repressed beliefs or feelings. Displacement -‐ shibing repressed mo5ves and emo5ons from an original object to a subs5tute object. Sublima7on -‐ redirec5ng repressed mo5ves and feelings into more socially acceptable channels. Socioeconomic, Cultural, and Gender Diﬀerences in Coping with Stress Poor people have to deal with more stress than people who are ﬁnancially secure. Some data indicate that people in low-‐income groups cope less eﬀec5vely with stress and that, as a result, stressful events have a stronger impact on their emo5onal lives. Cultural background inﬂuences the way that individuals cope with stress. Women report experiencing more stress than men. Research indicates that men and women may use diﬀerent coping strategies. Men are more likely to turn to alcohol. Women ruminate and revisit nega5ve emo5ons and events. They are more likely to seek contact and support from others rather than to behave aggressively (“tend and befriend” response linked to the hormone oxytocin). HOW STRESS AFFECTS HEALTH HOW STRESS AFFECTS HEALTH Health psychology is a subﬁeld of psychology concerned with the rela5onship between psychological factors and physical health and illness. Numerous studies have found that people suﬀering from acute or chronic stress are likely to be more vulnerable to everything from the common cold to an increased risk for heart disease. Physicians and psychologists agree that stress management is an essen5al part of programs to prevent disease and promote health. When we are fearful (as a result of perceived physical danger) we experience a ﬁght-‐or-‐
ﬂight response. The ﬁght-‐or-‐ﬂight response is a physiological one that mobilizes the body to respond to external threats by aTacking or ﬂeeing. This response seems to have an adap5ve or evolu5onary purpose. Physiologist Hans Selye (1907–1982) contended that we react to physical and psychological stress in three stages that he collec5vely called the general adapta7on syndrome (GAS). These three stages are: Stage 1 -‐ alarm reac5on Stage 2 -‐ resistance Stage 3 -‐ exhaus5on Stress and Heart Disease Stress is a major contribu5ng factor in the development of coronary heart disease (CHD), the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. People with Type A behavior paTerns-‐-‐those who respond to life events with impa5ence, hos5lity, compe55veness, urgency, and constant striving are at greater risk for developing heart disease. Type D or the distressed personality, which is characterized by depression, nega5ve emo5ons, and social inhibi5on, is also linked with heart disease. Because long-‐term stress increases the likelihood of developing CHD, reducing stress has become part of the treatment used to slow the progress of hardening of the arteries, which can lead to a heart aTack. A very low-‐fat diet and stress-‐management techniques, such as yoga and deep relaxa5on, have been eﬀec5ve in trea5ng this disease. Stress and the Immune System The ﬁeld of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) studies the interac5on between stress on the one hand and immune, endocrine, and nervous system ac5vity on the other. Chronic stress has been linked to suppressed func5oning of the immune system, especially with respiratory illness. The research on a possible link between stress and cancer is mixed. However, several new cancer drugs work by boos5ng the immune system. Even though the link between stress and cancer isn’t clear, many medical prac55oners agree that psychologists can also play a vital role in improving the quality of life for cancer pa5ents. STAYING HEALTHY Reduce Stress There are many eﬀec5ve ways to reduce stress: exercise and/or relaxa5on training social support religious prac5ces reaching out and giving to others using eﬀec5ve coping strategies (proac5ve coping, posi5ve reappraisal, humor) Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle The posi5ve psychology movement has prompted many health psychologists to explore other ways to promote good health by adop5ng a healthier lifestyle: healthy diet exercise quit smoking avoid high-‐risk behaviors EXTREME STRESS Sources of Extreme Stress Extreme stress markedly changes an individual’s life and is diﬃcult to fully recover from. There are many sources of extreme stress: unemployment divorce and separa5on bereavement catastrophes combat and other threatening personal aTacks PosTrauma5c Stress Disorder PosNrauma7c stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder caused by severely stressful events and is characterized by episodes of anxiety, sleeplessness, and nightmares. Although more than half of the American popula5on is exposed to a severely trauma5c event at some 5me, less than 10% will develop symptoms of PTSD. Some psychologists have found that following a signiﬁcant trauma, a few par5cularly stable individuals experience a posi5ve form of personal growth called pos-rauma1c growth (PTG). In the rare instances where posTrauma5c growth occurs, it appears to emerge largely from an individual’s struggle to reconcile their loss through religious or existen5al understanding As with PTSD, personality, psychological well-‐being, and eﬀec5ve cogni5ve coping strategies are important factors in determining whether a trauma5c event will result in PTG. When it does occur, posTrauma5c growth is more likely to be seen in young adults than in older people. Recovery from posTrauma5c stress disorder is strongly related to the amount of emo5onal support survivors receive from family, friends, and community. Treatment consists of helping those who have experienced severe trauma to come to terms with their terrifying memories. Immediate treatment near the site of the trauma coupled with the expecta5on that the individual will return to everyday life is oben eﬀec5ve. Reliving the trauma5c event in a safe seang is also crucial to successful treatment. This helps desensi5ze people to the trauma5c memories haun5ng them. THE WELL-‐ADJUSTED PERSON THE WELL-‐ADJUSTED PERSON Psychologists disagree about what cons5tutes good adjustment. Some think it is the ability to live according to social norms. Other psychologists disagree and argue that society is not always right. Some psychologists argue that well-‐adjusted people enjoy the diﬃcul5es and ambigui5es of life, trea5ng them as challenges to be overcome. According to Abraham Maslow, well-‐adjusted people are unconven5onal and crea5ve thinkers, perceive people and events realis5cally, and set goals for themselves. They also tend to form deep, close rela5onships with a few chosen individuals. ...
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