Identify and discuss strategies for coping with Stress

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Identify and discuss 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 physiological and psychological effects.

The extent to which people can adapt to a stressor depends on the individual and how they perceive the stressful stimuli because people’s emotions seem to be able to cope with short-term events where as the physiological response our body’s produce coincides with our negative emotions and so prepares us for dangerous situations. This is known as the ‘fight or flight response’ (Cannon), normally after a dangerous situation has occurred and our body has either ‘fought’ a or ‘fled’, our bodily state is able to return to normal. However, if these situations are continuous our bodies produce a continued stress response and this leads to a continued state of arousal that can eventually lead to coronary heart disease and other stress relates illnesses.

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Because more and more people are becoming ill through stress. Many different psychological and physical strategies have been put forward to help cope with stress. For example, In 1983 Meichenbaum came up with the idea of Stress Inoculation Training (S.I.T); this is a three-step procedure for producing stress inoculation. It was designed to teach people skills for alleviating stress and achieving personal goals. It aims to control irrational and catastrophising thoughts that to coincide with stressful situations. The first step is known as conceptualisation, this is where the person analyses and identifies where their stress comes from in ...

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