Understanding Stress And Stress Management Essay Sample

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1.1 Define what is stress

Stress may be defined as a response or reaction to something in the environment perceived as a threat or physical or mental change.

The transitional model of stress most popular among psychologists is:

A mismatch between the perceived demands of the environment and the perceived ability to cope with those demands.

Cardwell, M et al. (2004). Psychology – Psychology for AS/A2 Level. 3rd ed. London: Collins. p77-113.

1.2 Research and identify different types of stress including positive, negative, physical and emotional.


Hans Seyle, a researcher into stress, brought to light that stress can be related to positive experiences in addition to negative. He referred to positive stress as ‘eustress’ and negative as ‘distress’, where eustress, ‘…is the amount of stress needed for an active, healthy life.’

Psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson conceived the Yerkes – Dodson Law 1908. The law dictates that performance increases up to an optimum level of physical arousal; if arousal continues to increase (past the optimum level), performance declines; i.e. in order to do well in an exam or competition you need to be ‘keyed up’.


If we refer back to the transitional model of stress, ‘a mismatch between the perceived demands of the environment and the perceived ability to cope with those demands’, it would be safe to say that people who overestimate the demands of their exams whilst underestimating the resources they have created for themselves by preparing, experience negative stress.

Seyle proposed that in humans and non-human animals the body responds to a range of psychological and physical stressors with two pathways of physiological activation. He fabricated the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) model which illustrates the short term effects of stressors on the body and suggested that in some circumstances could lead to harmful changes in the body i.e. stress related illnesses such as gastric ulcers. The pain experienced after surgery is an example of physical stress. Physical stress will often lead to emotional stress, and emotional stress can manifest physically stress i.e. aches and pains. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001942.htm

Emotional stress will typically occur in where a person perceives a situation to be challenging or difficult; what one person may consider stressful, another may not. The loss of a loved one will more often than not be an emotionally stressful situation; especially if this person was also the main or sole financial provider. A person having to deal with this may feel that they can not cope and experience symptoms such as, tearfulness, depression, fits of rage, impatience, deterioration of personal hygiene and appearance.

2.1 List a range of signs and symptoms of stress that may affect an individual.

There are physical, mental, behavioural and emotional signs that may affect an individual.

Physical symptoms include:
Aches and pains due to tension i.e. headache and back pain.
Contrary to aches and pains is analgesia – loss of sensitivity to pain. This is due to the increase in the release of nuero-transmitters, enkephalins and endorphins. It means that people suffering physical injury will not feel the level of pain they should until analgesia has subsided; helpful to stay focused during emergencies. Problems manifesting within the digestive organs, stomach and bowel, such as heartburn and indigestion. Significant change in sleep pattern, fatigue, breathlessness, raised blood pressure, heart palpitations, chest pain. Cold, sweaty and trembling hands or feet

Frequent colds and infections
Problems with erections and sexual desire in males. This is due to the decline of the production of testosterone during the stress response. In females, menstrual cycles can be disrupted and sexual desire reduced.

Mental symptoms include:
Inability to concentrate
Memory problems
Difficulty in making decisions – seeing only the negative
Confusion, anxiety and disorientation
Constant worrying and panic attacks
Behavioural symptoms include:
Appetite changes and eating disorders – eating more or less, bulimia and anorexia Use of drugs and alcohol to let go
Sleeping too much or too little (restlessness)
Isolating yourself from others
Fidgeting, procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
Nervous habits i.e. nail biting, pacing
Emotional symptoms include:
Depression and tearfulness
Mood swings
Irritability and impatience
Agitation, inability to relax
Feelings of being overwhelmed and alone
2.2 Relate signs and symptoms of stress to it long-term influence on personal health.

Stress that is too intense or for a prolonged can have harmful effects. Studies have shown that stress can be linked to the following: Depression and suicide
Cardiovascular disorders (High Blood Pressure, Strokes, CHD) Gastric ulcers
Suppression of immune system – leads to increased infections, cancer Disruption to hormone functioning e.g. can affect growth in children or sexual functioning

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/stress_management/hic_warning_signs_of_emotional_stress_when_to_see_your_doctor.aspx http://www.thehealthcenter.info/adult-stress/types-of-stress.htm

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