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DISCUSS THE MEANING OF THE WORD STRESS

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Introduction

Natalie Blakeley Understanding Stress Activity 1 DISCUSS THE MEANING OF THE WORD STRESS Stress is a term that we often hear in day to day life. For example, Soldiers returning from the war in Iraq are suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mothers of young children are seemingly always stressed out and it is estimated that approximately 13.4 million working days are lost each year through stress related illness in Great Britain alone. But what exactly is this term that we hear so often? Seyle (1950) defined stress as "the individual's psychophysiological response, mediated largely by the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, to any demands made on the individual". It is the emotional and physical strain that is caused by how we respond to stressors and a stressor can be anything that causes the stress response. Whilst something can be a stressor to one person it may not have any effect on another. Therefore stress is very specific to individuals. For example, whilst one person who is given an increased workload in their job may thrive, his colleague may not be able to deal with the pressure of it. There are three categories of stress: 1- stress as a stimulus (the engineering model) 2- stress as a response (the physiological model) 3- Stress as an interaction between an organism and its environment (the transactional model). ...read more.

Middle

The physical changes that our body goes through when this response kicks in include an increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, thickening of the blood, sharpening of the senses, release of adrenalin and other stress hormones and a release of endorphins as a natural pain relief. The body is also able to prioritise where to send energy. If the caveman chose to run away from the tiger then the body would divert energy to the legs, detracting it from then unnecessary areas such as the digestive system and bladder. This could result in an unfortunate loss of bodily functions! In modern society it is unlikely that we use the fight of flight function on a regular basis. The nearest we are likely to get is stepping into the road and realising that a car is coming. Our fight or flight response would help us get out of the way. Seyle (1956) called the body's stress response the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) and is what he believed is the physiological process that the body goes through when faced with stress. In other words it is the human body's defence mechanism against stress. There are three stages of the GAS. They are the alarm reaction, resistance and exhaustion. The alarm reaction is the physiological response that prepares our body to "fight or flight". ...read more.

Conclusion

Throughout this essay we have looked at the different categories of stress and examined studies on each category and what the effects are on the human body. There is no doubt in my mind that the three models of stress (stimulus, response, transactional) exist. However, in the stimulus and transactional models I feel that we cannot generalise the way that Homes and Rahe, Friedman and Rosenman and Temoshok have. For example the Homes Rahe Scale lists things that although might be a stressful, life changing event for one person could be viewed as positive for another. I also believe that the 43 life events listed are outdated with current times. It is the same with the transactional model. We cannot tell who is hostile, a Type A personality or a Type B personality without studying them and even if we could, can we then guarantee that an individual who is one of these will then develop stress related illnesses? I do however feel that there is a link between stress-related illnesses and the response model of stress. The Fight or Flight response is something that actually happens to our bodies when faced with stress. It is a massive problem with modern day society. We are being pushed harder and have stressors in all aspects of life from work to home. Unless we find a way to either reduce this long-term stress of learn to deal with it then the serious illness caused by stress will continue to rise. ...read more.

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