Health and Stress
Health and Illness: Approaches
- Quebec has highest stress rate. Newfoundland has the least, but has the greatest sense of
humour which seems to be a good way of keeping stress at bay.
- Biomedical Model – focus is on illness rather than health; looks at biological factors
• Looking at biological factors and how they affect health.
- Biopsychosocial Model – focus is on health as well as illness; looks at psychological and
social factors in addition to biological factors
• Approach seen in a lot of research, example: looking at social interactions.
• Biopsychosocial model: Amodel of illness that holds that physical illness is caused
by a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.
- Interested in positive lifestyle choices
- Health psychology: The subfield of psychology concerned with how psychosocial factors
relate to the promotion and maintenance of health and with the causation, prevention, and
treatment of illness.
- Concerned with psychological factors that contribute to health, illness and response to
- Promotes interventions to foster good health and aid in recovery from illness
- Don’t necessarily have an underlying biological reason but is related to our psychological
- Unhealthy lifestyle and stress
- Lifestyle diseases
- Stress doesn’t have to be a negative challenge or change, just any type of situation that
requires you to change/adapt equals a stress.
- Stress: Any circumstances that threaten or are perceived to threaten one's well-being and
that thereby tax one's coping abilities. - The physiological and psychological response to a condition that threatens or challenges
a person and requires some form of adaptation or adjustment.
- Stress depends on our appraisal of the situation
Major Types of Stress
- Acute – short with an end
• Ashort term event ex: 9/11, a clear beginning and end.
- Chronic – long and no limit
• Don’t need to be major, little things that go wrong on a daily basis and are the most
• Acute stressors: Threatening events that have a relatively short duration and a clear
• Chronic stressors: Threatening events that have a relatively long duration and no
readily apparent time limit.
• Our goals are being blocked
• Frustration: The feeling that people experience in any situation in which their pursuit
of some goal is thwarted.
- Conflict (more on this later)
• Really about choice, two choices are presented and you don’t know which one to
• Conflict: Astate that occurs when two or more incompatible motivations or
behavioral impulses compete for expression.
- Change (good or bad) see p. 568
• Don’t need to memorize table
• Many people put themselves under a lot of pressure (ex: social comparisons)
• Pressure: Expectations or demands that one behave in a certain way.
Responses to Stress
- Releasing stress is good, as long as it isn’t done in an extreme manner.
- Emotional • Ex: internalizing (withdrawal) or externalizing (angry) behaviors
• Ex: eczema
- Behavioral: Learned Helplessness,Aggression, Catharsis, Indulgence, Defense
mechanisms (p. 577), constructive coping
• Learned helplessness: Passive behavior produced by exposure to unavoidable
If a stress is presented enough, you will give up on trying to deal with the stress
• Aggression: Any behavior that is intended to hurt someone, either physically or
• Catharsis: The release of emotional tension.
• Constructive coping: Relatively healthful efforts that people make to deal with
- GeneralAdaptation Syndrome
• All organisms are constantly confronted by stressors
Stress is embedded in our existence, stress can prompt us.
• Need to adjust or return to homeostasis (resting point)
When stressed, we are out of balance (physical and psychological)
• If we don’t we will experience problems as a result
- General adaptation syndrome: Selye's model of the body's stress response, consisting of
three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.
- This concept says we go through stages as a result of stress starting with alarm, ending
• 3 stages
- Alarm – heart rate, blood pressure, and blood-sugar levels increase, giving person energy
to cope with stressful situation. - Resistance – the adrenal cortex continues to release glucocorticoids to help the body
• Dealing with the stress
- Exhaustion – all of the stores of deep energy are depleted.
• Energy is depleted, hopefully it will return back to our inner balance.
Lazarus’s Cognitive Theory of Stress
- Primary Appraisal:An evaluation of the meaning and significance of a situation—
whether it effects one’s well-being as positive, irrelevant, or negative.
• Evaluate and make a decision
- Secondary Appraisal: If the situation is within the person’s control, they evaluate
available resources to alleviate the stress.
• Equivalent to the resistant stage
More Sources of Stress
- Unpredictability and Lack of Control
• Stress in the workplace (or an academic realm)
• Catastrophic Events
Ex: 9/11, war, natural disasters.
• Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - results from a trauma or can also result due to
prolonged exposure to stress
Agroup of traits that consist of sleeping problems, acute anxiety, increased rate of
aggression, losing touch with reality, can even alter brain development (ex: young
children in an abusive environment).
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Disturbed behavior that is attributed to a
major stressful event but that emerges after the stress is over.
Conflict with Choices
- Stress can also be seen as a result of conflict between choices:
• Approach-Approach:Achoice between two positive alternatives. 2 good things are presented to you and you need to make a choice. Ex: acceptance
to 2 great schools and now you have to choose which one you would like to attend
Approach-approach conflict: Aconflict situation in which a choice must be made
between two attractive goals.
• Avoidance-Avoidance:Aforced choice between two negative alternatives.
Avoidance-avoidance conflict:Aconflict situation in which a choice must be
made between two unattractive goals.
• Approach-Avoidance:Achoice that has both a good and bad alternative.
Approach-avoidance conflict: Aconflict situation in which a choice must be made
about whether to pursue a single goal that has both attractive and unattractive
- Not mutually exclusive
- Coping:Active efforts to master, reduce, or tolerate the demands created by stress.
- Problem-focused coping: Consists of reducing, modifying, or eliminating the source of
• Targeting what’s causing the problem and eliminating it. (Ex: a bad job is stressful, so
- Emotion-focused coping: Involves reappraising a stressor, in other words teaching
yourself that this in fact is not really a “big deal”
• Teaching yourself to think differently about the situation, used in a lot of therapy.
- Proactive coping: Consists of efforts or actions taken in advance of a potentially stressful
situation to prevent its occurrence or to minimize its consequences.
• Getting ahead of the game, a healthy way to deal with stress can