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University of Guelph
PSYC 1000
Harvey Marmurek

Course: PSYC*1000 (DE) Professor: Harvey Marmurek Schedule: Summer, 2012 Textbook: Psychology – Tenth Edition in Modules authored by David G. Myers Textbook ISBN: 9781464102615 Module 39: Promoting Health Coping with Stress In what ways do people cope with stress, and how does a perceived lack of control affect health? We address some stressors directly, with problem-focused coping. For example, if our impatience leads to a family fight, we may go directly to that family member to work things out. We turn to emotion-focused coping when we cannot – or believe we cannot – change a situation. We may search for relief from stress by confiding in friends and reaching out for support and comfort. Emotion-focused strategies can move us toward better long-term health, as when we see emotional distance from a damaging relationship or keep busy with hobbies to avoid thinking about an old addiction. Sometimes a problem-focused strategy more effectively reduces stress and promotes long-term health and satisfaction. Perceived Control [Health consequences of a loss of control: The “executive” rat at the left can switch off the tail shock by turning the wheel. Because it has control over the shock, it is no more likely to develop ulcers than is the unshocked rat on the right. The “subordinate” rat in the centre receives the same shocks as the executive rat, but with no control over the shocks. It is, therefore, more likely to develop ulcers.] Perceiving a loss of control, we become more vulnerable to ill health. Elderly nursing home residents who have little perceived control over their activities tend to decline faster and die sooner than do those given more control. Workers able to control their work environment (furniture placement, etc.) experience less stress. In one study of 843 grave markers in an old graveyard in Glasgow, Scotland, those with the costliest, highest pillars (indicating the most affluence) tended to lived the longest. Likewise, those living in Scottish regions with the least overcrowding and unemployment have the greatest longevity. With higher economic status comes reduced risks of low birth weight, infant mortality, smoking, and violence. Losing control provokes an outpouring of stress hormones. To cope with stress, we tend to use problem-focused strategies when we feel in control of our world, and emotion- focused strategies when we believe we cannot change a situation. Optimism and Health What are the links among basic outlook on life, social support, stress, and health? Outlook – what we expect from the world. Pessimists expect things to go badly and optimists expect positive things. Among those in the lowest optimism quartile, 57% died, as did only 30% of the top optimism quartile. The number of deaths among those with a bleak, hopeless outlook was more than double that found among their optimistic counterparts. 54% of nuns expressing few positive emotions had died as had only 24% of those most positive spirited. Social Support Social support – feeling liked and encouraged by intimate friends and family – promotes both happiness and health. Close relationships have predicted health. Those with ample social connections had survival rates about 50% greater than those with meagre connections. One 7-decades-long study found that at age 50, healthy aging is better predicted by a good marriage than by a low cholesterol level. Social support calms us and reduces blood pressure and stress hormones. Supportive family and friends help buffer threats. Social support fosters stronger immune functioning. Close relationships give us an opportunity for ‘open heart therapy,’ a chance to confide painful feelings. Suppressing emotions can be detrimental to physical health. Some research finds that people with companionable pets are less likely than those without pets to visit their doctors after stressful events. How can the health benefits from social support shed light on this finding? Feeling social support – even from a pet – might calm people, and lead to lower levels of stress hormones and blood pressure. Reducing Stress Having a sense of control, developing more optimistic thinking, and building social support can help us experience less stress and thus improve our health. People who are upbeat about themselves and their future also tend to enjoy health-promoting social ties. Aerobic Exercise How effective is aerobic exercise as a way to manage stress and improve well-being? Aerobic exercised is sustain, oxygen-consuming exercise that increases heart and lung fitness. Adds quantity of life (about 2 years) and quality (more energy, better mood). Fights heart disease by strengthening heart, increasing bloodflow, keeping blood vessels open, lowering blood pressure and blood pressure reaction. Inactivity leaves us susceptible to more than 20 chronic diseas
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