LECTURE: JANUARY 29TH, 2013
TOPIC: STRESS AND COPING
◦ Is it circular? Is it what you are experiencing or is it a cause? Does stress cause more stress?
→ circular definition.
◦ Medical Definition
▪ “Stress is the nonspecific response of a body to any demand, whether it is caused by, or
results in, pleasant or unpleasant conditions.”
▪ The term stress is ambiguous – stress is used to refer to a cause and also to a reaction -
“stress causes me stress”
• Fight versus Flight Response
➔ GeneralAdaptation Syndrome
◦ When there is something that is threatening the first phase will be alarm. The second phase
will be to mobilize our resources to react and that works in a short run. If I feel endangered
and I need to run away my body has to be ready (heart racing, breathing quickly, start
running).After awhile, if I still feel endangered I will go through the third phase and
➔ Signs of Stress
◦ Mood Problems, Bodily problems, Cognitive problems (signs).
▪ Physiological-fight or flight response (Cannon) -autonomic nervous system.
• Example: light headed, the sweats, dry mouth, shallow breathing, tense, shaking.
➔ Refer to Stress Scale on Handout as well as the Story on the handout labeled “Herbert
Freudenberger, 73, Coiner of 'Burnout,' Is Dead”.
◦ Burnout itself does not mean working a long day.
◦ What does Burnout really mean?
▪ “The extinction pf motivation or incentive, especially when one's devotion to a cause or
relationship fails to produce the desired results” ~Freudenberger
• Signs of Burnout
◦ Lose patience (impatience – feel over-burdened)
◦ Irritability -feel pessimistic and overly-critical
◦ Inflexibility -more rule bound
◦ Behavioural signs in workplace – increased mistakes, absences, lateness, leaving
work early, decreased work productivity, argumentativeness, callousness,
alcohol/drug use, over-eating/not eating, interpersonal withdrawal.
➔ What are some aspects that cause stress?
◦ Two psychologists: Holmes and Rahe → interested in major life events. These are the key
sources of stress (not necessarily bad events but simply a change in our routine).Asked
100's of people about major events in their life that caused sources of stress/ strain.
▪ The major life event that is right in the middle (50) → marriage!
▪ The MOST stressful event
• Death of a spouse
◦ Life events -Social Readjustment Rating Scale
◦ Correlated with illness (the more stressful events the higher your chances of obtaining or
becoming vulnerable to illness). ➔ Daily Hassles are VERY stressful !!
◦ Example: exams, balancing school and work demands, family problems, money problems,
relationship problems etc.
◦ ClassActivity → Exams and trying to balancing school and work demands were rated as
the highest stress.
➔ Occupational Stress
◦ High Stress
▪ Exposure to dangerous work conditions -factory workers.
▪ Uncertainty about layoffs.
▪ Middle Management -accountable to someone above them.
▪ Nurses -Neonatal intensive care (taking care of little babies in intensive care).
◦ Low Stress
▪ University Professor.
▪ Clerical Supervisors -someone in charge of secretarial pool.
➔ Refer to Stress Scale on Handout
◦ What is the questionnaire a test of?
▪ Competitiveness and aggressiveness traits.
• People prone to heart disease
• Famous long term study of people who might be at risk for heart problems. The
researchers chose a small place in Massachusetts. They were interested in blood
pressure, hypertension etc (biological aspects). They were also interested in
personality characteristics. They were worried no one would fund them a grant for a
study on personality. So they decided to call it “TypeA” so it would sound scientific
and they would get the grant.
◦ People who have high scores on this TypeAleads to higher risks of cardiac
◦ Perfectionism → been associated with a higher risk for illness.
➔ Richard Lazarus
◦ It is not just stressful events and that we had a test in the first part of this class today, it is
also how we look at that test. Is this stressor an opportunity for me to fail again and pr