Stres s and Its Effects
How would you define stress?
•Stress as a stimulus?
•“I have a lot of stress in my life because of...”
•Stress as a physiolo gical respons e ?
•“I'm feeling a lot of stress, I'm feeling anxious etc..”
•Any circumstanc e that threat ens or is p erc eived to threat en your w ellb eing and there by
tax your coping abilitie s.
How stressed are we?
•76% of Canadians experience stress frequently/fairly often
•Job (32%) Finance (28) Health (19%) Family life (13%)
•> 3/5 doctor's office visits are for stressrelated problems.
•More females are stressed than males.
•23% F vs 19% M in workplace.
•38% F vs 20% M in university.
Routine hassles create stress too.
•Level of daily stress more highly correlated with a person's m ental health.
•Stressful events likely have a cumulative impact
•Chronic environmental conditions that are () and place demands on you (Excessive noise, heat,
pollution, crowding, risk of disaster, poverty & violence).
SelfImposed stress – As a result of setting unrealistic goals.
Worldwide – cultural change (global modernization)
Local issues Drought, famine, ethnic crises.
•In western culture, some cultural groups more likely to experience stress
•Institutional or overt racism declining
•Subtle or covert prejudice/discrimination still an issue.
•One challenge faced by members of ethnic minorities in dealing with everyday discrimination is that manifestations of
such discrimination are often: Ambiguous
TYPES OF STRESS
•Short term terminal threats (traffic jam, long line up, paper due tomorrow)
•Long term sustained threats. (job, m arriage, money problems, sick family me mber)
•Arise when accomplishment of a goal is thwarted, Failures and losses especially stressful
•Environmental stressors (eg: Deerfoot)
•Emotional state that arises when a person much choose between competing motivations/impulses.
•3 types of conflict:
•When one choice has +/ aspects
•Often leads to vacillation (hesitation, indecision in speech/action)
•Noticeable alterations in living circumstances that requires readjustment •Holmes and Rahe's Social Readjustment Rating scale
•Measures amount of life change
•High scores correlated with illness and psychological problems.
•Expectations/demands to behave in a certain way
• 2 Subtypes
•Pressure to perform
•Pressure to conform
•Pressure more strongly related to mental health than other m easures of stress
RESPONSE TO STRESS
Stressful event > Appraisal > Reactions
Responses can be emotional, physiological, behavioural.
•Feelings + physiological changes
•Common n e g ative emotions
•Annoyance, anger and rage (as a result of frustration)
•Apprehension, anxiety and fear (as a result of pressure to perform, impending frustration, uncertainty
associated with change)
•Dejection, sadness and grief (Setbacks can bring us down)
•Correlated with resilience (helps people cope)
•Builds social, intellectual & physical resources
•Promotes flexibility and problem solving
•Helps you lean more about yourself
•Reduces adverse physiological effects of stress
•Enhances immune system function
•Increases social support.
•Effects of emotion arousal
lPossible diminished performance
lAttention disruption, Lack of selfcontrol.
lThe InvertedU Hypothesis (YerkesDonson's Law)
lFunction relating performance to arousal level
lArousal level where performance peaks
People perform best when at an intermediate level of arousal
−If underaroused, people get sluggish
−If overaroused, people can't focus and sustain attention
Physiological Respons e s
•The FightFlight Response (Walter Canon)
•How body responds to threat
•The autonomic nervous system •Homoeostatic m echanism for managing arousal
•Composed of nerves that connect to the heart, blood, vessels, smooth muscles and glands.
•Functions without conscious control
•Composed of 2 parts
•Sympathetic nervous system (it's go time! Stress)
•Parasympathetic nervous system (relax)
General Adaptation Syndrome
•Research by Hans Selye
•Found physiological stress response nonspecific
•ALARM > RESISTANCE >EXHAUSTION
•Animals and humans less able to cope with new things in resistance phase
•Exhaustion = burnout
•Glands that release hormones into bloodstream
•Increased access to energy storage, Decreased Inflammation
•Increased heart rate, respiration, perspiration, Increased blood flow to active muscles, Increased
muscle strength, muscle activity
•Stress can suppress immune system
Behavioural Respons e s
•Efforts to deal with or reduce the effects of stress
•May be adaptive or maladaptive
•Mediators of Stress
•The stress we feel is affected by:
•Perceived Control: Belief that we can influence our environment in ways that determine whether we
experience positive or negative outcomes.
•Selfefficacy: Belief in one's ability to carry out specific actions that produce desired outcomes
•Effects of Stress
•Impaired task performance
•Choking under pressure
•Impaired cognitive function
•Especially in area of attention
•Stress can be considered a type of “cognitive bond”
•Extreme stress can lead to shock
•Characterized by: Physical & e motional exhaustion, cynicism, lower selfefficacy
•Driven by: Work overload, coworker conflict, lack of control, lack of recognition
•Consequences of Burnout
•Absenteeism, Decreases in job commitment, Reduced productivity, Alcohol abuse
•Physical health problems
•Poor appetite, Headaches, Backaches
•Mental health problems
Psycholo gical Proble m s/Disorders
•Stress can lead to psychological problems including:
•Poor academic performance
•Insomnia and nightmares
•Sexual difficulties & Addictions
•Associated with certain psychological disorders such as: Depression, Schizophrenia, anxiety disorders,
•Psychosomatic Diseases •not imaginary, but rather caused by m ental factors like stress.
•High blood pressure, Ulcers, Asthma, Skin disorders (Eczema, Hives), Migraines.
•Stress also influences the onset and course of:
•Heart disease, strokes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, leukaemia, other cancers.
Posttraumatic stress disorder
•Enduring psychological disturbance following a m ajor traumatic event
•War vets, individual events
•Leads to: nightmares, paranoia, emotional numbing, risk for substance abuse
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF STRESS
•Satisfy need for stimulation and change
•Challenges give us a sense of purpose
•Promote personal growth of selfimprovement
•New priorities, insights, strengths
•What doesn't kill us makes us stronger
•Very important moderate of stress
•Works on m any levels:
•Provides a buffer for psychological effects
•Dampens physiological reactions
•Reduces health impairing behaviours
•Social support is not limited to humans
•Helping others helps you too
•Characterized by 3 qualities:
•Commitment to a cause
•Sense of control
•Appetite for challenges
•Expecting good outcomes
•Pessimistic vs optimistic explanatory styles
Efforts to master, reduce or tolerate the demands created by stress.
COPING STRATEGIES OF LIMITED VALUE
•Giving up – learned helplessness
•Behavioural Disengagement “I've been giving up trying to deal with it/ the attempt to cope”
•SelfIndulgence – eating, smoking, drugs, shopping, TV, internet
•Indulgence m ay help in the shortterm, problems arise if it gets out of control.
•SelfDistraction “I've been doing other things to take my mind off things”
•Substance Use “I've been using alcohol/drugs to make myself feel better/help me through it”
•2004 Canadian campus survey
•32% of undergrads reported patterns of harmful drinking
•10% reported alcohol related assault
•9.8% reported alcohol related sexual harassment
•14.1% reported unplanned sexual relations b/c of alcohol
•30% reported high psychological stress.
•Depressant that slows brain activity and decreases inhibitions •Increases some behaviours that are normally under control
•Physiological effects of alcohol vary depending on the a mount of alcohol, and the gender + weight of
•Health consequences of heavy drinking
•Cancer (oral, stomach, pancreatic, colon & rectal) Cirrhosis of the liver. Increase in heart disease +
•Pregnancy complications, fetal alcohol syndrome, psychotic states (delirium, disorientation,
•Treatment programs for people with drinking problems – May be psychological or m edical. Alcoholics
Anonymous is the most widely known program
•goal of treatment: abstinence although a few therapists believe limited, nonproblem drinking is
•Self criticism, Catastrophic thinking.
•Attribute failures to personal shortcomings, focusing only on () feedback.
•Results in pessimistic view of future.
•() selftalk counterproductive – can lead to depression
•“I've been criticizing myself” “I’ve been blaming myself for things that happened”
•Avoidance, wishful thinking, related to poor health and delays in solutions.
Healthie st to b e realistic about stre s sful e v e nts – Overly favourable self ratings correlated with
mental illhealth. But we do have an “optimal margin of illusion”
•“This isn't real” refusing to believe that it has happened.