Professor: Sonia Cruz
Course: LA 101 - 51
Date: Wednesday 6th February. 2013
Stress and Health Psychology
Stress maybe defined as a psychological state of tension or strain. In simpler words stress is a reaction of the body to facing an unpleasant situation or one that the body is simply uncomfortable with. Extreme or Chronic stress however marks a radical departure from everyday life, such that a person cannot continue life as before and in some cases, never fully recovers. Reactions to regular stress vary from person to person and from situation to situation; common reactions are the tensing of muscles and the quickening of the heart (Charles G. Morris 250).
Stress was also defined by Floyd L Ruch as an unpleasant emotional upheaval which the individual experiences in response to frustration; and adverse condition such as extreme coldness, heat and loud noises. Stress according to Ruch is reactions to frustrations (Psychology and Life Floyd L. Ruch). We generally use the word stress when we feel that everything seems to have become too much; we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us. Most persons often struggle to find out what are the causes of their stress. According to our school textbook, Psychology by The Pearson Custom Library, stresses are caused by what they refer to as stressors. A stressor is any environmental demand that creates a state of tension or threat and requires change or adaptation. There are two main stressors identified in the text: Change and Everyday Hassles along with the "not so rare" cases of self-imposed stress.
Many situations prompt us to change our behavior in some way, but only some cause stress. Consider, for example, taking a nice, long shower when you are leaving your house. Normally, this involves no stress. But now imagine that you are rushing to an important meeting or to meet a date of the opposite sex and taking a shower will surely make you late. Here, stress is triggered because the situation not only requires adaption, but it produces tensions and distress as well.
What can cause stress depends, on your perception of it. Something that's stressful to you may not even faze someone else; they may even enjoy it. For example, your morning drive journey to work may make you anxious and tense because you are worried that traffic will make you late. Others, however, may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough time and enjoy listening to music while they drive to get away from reality for a bit.
All stressful events have been noted to involve some degree of change; according to the text. Most people have a strong preference for order, continuity and predictability in their lives. Hence, with total disregard of the nature of the event, anything positive or negative that requires change would be deemed as stressful.
Many psychologists have drawn attention to society that stress is caused by "hassles", life's petty annoyances, irritations and frustrations. These include the petty stuff such as waiting in long lines to purchase groceries, or having a small argument with a family member or friend. Richard Lazarus believed that big events matter so much because they trigger numerous little hassles that eventually overwhelm us with stress. "It is not the large dramatic events that make the difference," Lazarus noted, "but what happens day in and day out whether provoked by major events or not" (Lazarus, 1981,p.62).