September 25, 12
PSYCH – Week 3 Online Readings
Week 3: Health Psychology and Health Management
Focus Question: Why are we stressed and what can we do about it?
Fight or Flight
A natural response our bodies have to stressful situations where we’re suddenly
on alert and our senses are heightened; a response; we have different physical
reactions to different stresses.
Prolonged fightorflight reactions can trigger negative responses, both physically
Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) or the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale –
measures life stress
Stressful Lifestyles and Impaired Health
Chronic stress can increase risk or coronary heart disease, cancer, impaired
immune system functioning and high blood pressure.
Some people cope with stress by engaging in unhealthy behaviours. For example,
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sufferers often turn to alcohol as a method
General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)
A useful framework for understanding our physiological response to stressors. Go
through three stages: Alarm, Resistance (or adaptation), and Exhaustion (loss of
ability to adapt if stress goes on too long).
Longterm stress pus us through these stages and can lead to breakdowns in body
functioning (we will be stuck in the exhaustion stage)
Stressappraisal: two interacting components. Make a primary appraisal, which lets
us perceive a new or changing environment as beneficial, neutral, or negative in
its possible awareness. Following that initial awareness, make a Secondary
Appraisal, which is the assessment of our coping abilities and resources and
judgment as to whether they will be sufficient to meet the harm, threat, or
challenge of a new or changing event.
SelfEfficacy September 25, 12
Second part of cognitive appraisal is our ability to cope with the threat or control
it (which leads to less stress)
SelfEfficacy: If we believe we can do what it necessary to reach our desired
outcome. (Efficacy meaning success in producing desired outcome)
Attitudes: attitudes represent our positive and negative evaluations of the
behaviour in question.
Placebo effect: When people who falsely believe they are receiving a treatment
respond as if they had actually been treated.
Those people who are generally optimistic report fewer illness symptoms than
those who are generally pessimistic.
The way people appraise a stresser and their general approach to stress and
stressors are both part of emotionfocused coping (see below).
Loneliness and Relationships
Stressful relationships can lead to lower antibodies in blood and other health
Closer friends can lead to less stress while a failure to gain friends leads to stress
Coping Styles and Strategies
Emotionfocused coping: aims to reduce our emotional reaction to a stressful
situation. Strategies include regular aerobic exercise, progressive muscle
relaxation, and cognitive appraisal the process of adjusting perceptions of
existing stressors as being less threatening
Problemfocused coping: changes an existing stressful situation by reducing or
eliminating it. This method is only possible in circumstances when the stressor
can be controlled.
Proactive coping: used up front to prevent or reduce stressful event from