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PSYC 102
Russell Day

Chapter 14 Stress and Well-Being  Health psychology addresses factors that influence well-being and illness, as well as measures that can be taken to promote health and prevent illness.  Stressors, demanding or threatening situations  From the person-situation interaction perspective, stress can be defined as a pattern of cognitive appraisals, physiological responses, and behavioral tendencies that occurs in response to a perceived imbalance between situational demands and the resources needed to cope with them. Stressors  Researchers may have to rely on people’s self-reports, using life event scales to quantify the amount of life stress that a person has experienced over a given period of time.  Respondents may be asked not only whether a particular event occurred but also whether the event was positive/negative and whether it was a major/minor event  Later research showed that only negative life changes consistently predicted adverse health and behavioral outcomes, most modern researchers now define stress in terms of negative life changes only. The Stress Response: A Mind-Body Link  Stress response has cognitive, physiological, and behavioral components.  Cognitive Appraisal: 4 aspects of appraisal process are particularly significant - Appraisal of the nature and demands of the situation (primary appraisal), interpreting the situation as either benign, neutral/irrelevant, or threatening in terms of its demands and its significance for your well-being. - Appraisal of the resources available (knowledge/abilities/verbal skills/social resources) to cope with it (secondary appraisal), you will be appraising your perceived ability to cope with the situation, that is, the resources you have to deal with it. - Judgements of what the consequences of the situation could be, both seriousness of the consequences and the likelihood that they will occur - Appraisal of the personal meaning, that is, what the outcome might imply about us. - Distortions and mistake appraisal can occur at any of the four points in the appraisal process, causing inappropriate stress responses.  Physiological Responses: sensory feedback from our body’s response can cause us to reappraise how stressful a situation Is and whether our resources are sufficient to cope with it. - General adaptation syndrome (GAS) consists of 3 phases: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion 1. In response to physical or psychological stressor, organisms exhibit an immediate increase in physiological arousal as body mobilizes itself to respond to the threat. Activation of SNS and the release of stress hormone 2. During resistance, body’s resources are mobilized by continued outpouring of stress hormones. 3. If stressor is intense and persists too long, the body will eventually reach a stage of exhaustion, in which there is increased vulnerability to disease. Effects of Stress on Well-Being  Our physiological responses may thereby take an unnecessary toll on our physical and psychological well-being.  There are indications that stress cab combine with other physical and psychological factors to influence the entire spectrum of physical illnesses. (can be immediate or less immediate)  Physiological responses to stressors can directly harm other body systems. For example, secretion of stress hormone can affect the activity of heart, and excessive secretions can damage the lining of arteries. By reducing fat metabolism, contribute to fatty blockages in arteries.  Stress also can contribute to health breakdowns by causing people to behave in ways that increase the risk of illness. (Quit exercising, smoking, alcohol, drug, poor dietary)  Possible that chronically elevated levels of stress hormones such as cortisol damage the telomeres and lower telomerase levels, thereby speeding aging processes.  Some studies shown that stress hormones released into bloodstream by adrenal glands can suppress the activity of specific immune system cells.  2 kinds of immune reactions 1. Natural immunity occurs quickly of an immune challenge and is relatively nonspecific in nature (inflammation) a. Cytokines, which help produce fever and inflammation, promote healing of injured tissue, and activate and direct other immune cells. 2. Specific immunity is a much more targeted process and takes longer to occur, sometimes up to several days. (identification of specific properties of invaders and development of specific antibodies)  Overall, research results support a biphasic model in which acute stress enhances immune response, whereas chronic stress suppresses it. Factors that Influence Stress-Health Relations  Vulnerability factors increase people’s susceptibility to stressful events. Include low social support, poor coping skills, and tendencies to become anxious or pessimistic.  Protective factors are environmental or personal resources that help people cope more effectively with stressful events. Include social support, effecting coping skills, etc.  The knowledge that we can rely on others for help and support in time of crisis helps blunt the impact of stress.  One way that social support protects against stress is by enhancing immune system functioning.  Friends can apply social pressure to prevent people from coping with stressors in maladaptive ways.  The fact that people differ widely in the pattern and intensity of their physiological responses makes people more/less vulnerable to stressors.  Two types of stress hormones, catecholamines and cortisol, are important links between physiological reactivity and health. - Cortisol reduces immune-system functioning and helps create fatty deposits in the arteries that lead to heart disease - In contrast catecholamine secretion increases immune –system functioning. - Increased vulnerability to bodily breakdowns occurs when person respond to stress with high levels of cortisol instead of catecholamines.  Type A behavior patter, who tend to live under great pressure and demand much of themselves and others. Typically are workaholics, characterized by high level of competitiveness and ambition, which can foster aggressiveness and hostility when things get in their way. - These people have about double the risk for coronary heart disease compare to less driven people. - Most damaging aspect is the negative emotions.  Coping self-efficacy, the belief that we can perform the behaviors necessary to cope successfully.  On average, people with positive attitudes toward their aging lived an average of 7.6 years longer than did their counterparts with negative attitudes.  Children have certain characteristics (adequate intellectual functioning, self- efficacy, faith/optimism/hope) that contribute to a positive outcome even in the face of stressful life events. Coping With Stress  Coping strategies can be divided into the three broad classes - Problem-focused coping strategies attempt to confront and directly deal with the demands of the situation or to change the situation so that it is no longer stressful (studying for a test, sign up for a course to improve one’s time management) a. Works best in situations where there is some prospect of controlling the stressor - Emotion-focused coping strategies attempt to manage the emotional responses that result from it. Appraising the situation in a manner that minimizes its emotional impact. (going to party forget about the test) a. In situations that we cannot influence or modify, emotion-focused coping may be most adaptive approach, for although we can’t master the situation, we may be able to prevent or control maladaptive emotional responses to it. - Seeking social support coping strategies involves turning to others for assistance and emotional support in times of stress. (student seek help from teacher)  Problem-focused and seeking social support were most often associated with favorable adjustment to stressors. In contrast, emotion-focused strategies that involved avoiding feelings or taking it out on other people predicted depression and poorer adjustment.  Tend (nurturant activities designed to protect self/offspring/SO) and befriend (creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in face of stressors) pattern is a product of biological mechanisms that underlie attachment and caregiving behavioral tendencies in women Stress Management Training  Cognitive coping skills - Cognitive restructuring, to systematically detect, challenge, and replace these irrational ideas - Self-instructional training, people learn to talk to themselves and guide their behavior in ways that help them cope more effectively  Relaxation techniques - Somatic relaxation training provides a means of
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