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Managing Stress: Coping with Life’s Challenges


Copyright © 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

Pop Quiz

• Please take out a sheet of paper.

• Put your name and ID in the upper right-hand corner.
• Define the following terms:
1. Allostatic load
2. Immunocompetence
3. Hypothalamus
4. Parasympathetic nervous system
5. Psychoneuroimmunology
Activity Break

• Tear up your paper—no quiz today!

• Tell me how you felt when you saw the pop quiz slide.
• Tell me how you felt when I announced it was a joke.

• Define stress and examine its potential impact on health,

relationships, and success in college.
• Explain the phases of the general adaptation syndrome
and the physiological changes that occur during them.
• Examine the physical, emotional, and social health risks
that may occur with chronic stress.
• Discuss sources of stress and examine the unique stressors
that affect college students.
• Explore techniques for coping with or reducing exposure to
stress and using positive stressors to enrich your life.
What Is Stress?

• The mental and physical response of our bodies to the changes and
challenges in our lives
• A stressor is any physical, social, or psychological event or condition that
causes the body to adjust to that situation.
• Strain
• Coping
• Eustress (positive stress)
• Distress (negative stress)
The Body’s Response to Stress

• Fight-or-flight response
• General adaptation syndrome (GAS), characterized by Hans Seyle in 1936,
has three distinct phases:
1. Alarm phase
2. Resistance phase
3. Exhaustion phase
The General Adaptation Syndrome

Copyright © 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

Alarm Phase (of GAS)

• Autonomic nervous system (ANS) is triggered when the mind perceives a

stressor the brain interprets as a threat.
• Sympathetic nervous system releases hormones that speed heart rate.
• Parasympathetic nervous system counteracts the actions of the
sympathetic branch, reaching a balance.
The General Adaptation Syndrome

Autonomic nervous system
Sympathetic nervous system
Parasympathetic nervous system


Allostatic load
Resistance and Exhaustion Phases (of GAS)
• Resistance phase: The body tries to return to homeostasis but doesn’t
achieve complete rest.

• Exhaustion phase: Stress is promoted to adaptation.

• Deep stores of adaptation are preset by heredity.
• Superficial adaptation stores are renewable and present the first line of defense
against stress.
Stress and Your Health

Highly stressed individuals are at greater risk.

• Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
• CDC reported that stress accounts for approximately 30 percent
of the attributable risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack).
• Impaired immunity
• Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) analyzes the relationship between
the mind’s response to stress and the immune system’s ability to
function effectively.
• Diabetes
• Studies show a link between psychological or physical stress and
• Obesity
• Studies suggest that higher stress levels increase the amount of
the hormone Cortisol released in the body, causing weight gain.
Physical Symptoms of Stress

Copyright © 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

Stress and the Mind

• Stress may contribute to mental disability and emotional dysfunction.

• These effects may be manifested as
• lost work productivity.
• difficulties in relationships.
• abuse of drugs and other substances.
• displaced anger.
• aggressive behavior.
Sources of Stress

• Psychosocial sources of stress

• Change
• Hassles
• Pressure
• Inconsistent goals and behaviors
• Conflict
• Overload
• Burnout
• Other (overcrowding, discrimination, unemployment, and poverty)
ABC News Video: Stress at Work and Home

| Stress at Work and Home

Discussion Questions
1. For those in class who work full or part time, share an
extremely stressful work event and how it was resolved.
How did you feel at that time?
2. In potentially stressful situations at home, how do you
prevent issues from escalating to an uncontrollable level?
3. Name a few ways to reduce stress at school. Have you
had success in any of these? What support systems need
to be in place?
Stress and “-isms”

• Different viewpoints and backgrounds cause stress.

• Race
• Ethnicity
• Religious affiliation
• Age
• Sexual orientation
• Other
Environmental Stress

• Stress that results from events occurring in the physical environment

• Floods
• Hurricanes
• Earthquakes
• Fires
• Industrial disasters
• Background distressors, such as noise, air, and water pollution
Self-Imposed Stress

• Appraisal of demands that result in stress

• Self-esteem
• Self-efficacy
• External versus internal locus of control
• Personality types and hardiness
• Type A: hard-driving, competitive, anxious
• Type B: relaxed, noncompetitive, tolerant
• Type C: introverted, eager to please, and compliant
Activity Break: Stressors and Symptoms

• Brainstorming
• Get into groups of 4 or 5.
• What factors stress you out?
• What signs and symptoms of stress do you experience?

• Create a top five list for your group, number 1 being the greatest stressor
• Share with the class.
Activity: Coping

• Brainstorming
• Get back into your groups and list how you cope with stress.
• Create a top five list for your group, number 1 being the greatest stressor.
• Share with the class.
Managing Your Stress

• Building skills to reduce stress

• Assessing your stressors
• Changing your responses
• Learning to cope
• Downshifting
Managing Social Interactions

• Making the most of support groups

• Important part of stress management
• Members include friends, family members, and
• If no close support group exists for you, there are alternatives: counseling services,
clergy, instructors, mental health clinics.
Taking Mental Action

• Changing the way you think

• Cognitive restructuring
• Managing emotional responses
• Learn to laugh and cry.
• Fight the anger urge.
• Identify your anger style (e.g., explosive).
• Recognize patterns in your anger responses and how to de-escalate.
• Plan ahead (e.g., traffic).
• Develop a support system.
• Develop realistic expectations of yourself and others.
Taking Positive Physical Action
• Exercise
• Human stress response is intended to end in physical activity.
• Relax
• As your heart rate slows, your blood pressure and metabolic rate decrease, allowing
you to channel energy appropriately.
• Eat right
• Avoid sympathomimetics (e.g., caffeine) that may cause distress in the body.
Managing Your Time
Procrastination is a common problem among college students. Time
management tips to follow:
• Take on only one thing at a time.
• Clean off your desk.
• Prioritize your tasks.
• Don’t be afraid to say no.
• Find a clean, comfortable place to work with no interruptions.
• Reward yourself for work completed.
• Use time to your advantage.
• Break overwhelming tasks into small pieces.
• Remember that time is precious.
How Do You Spend Your Time?

Copyright © 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

ABC News Video: The Multitasking Myth

| The Multitasking Myth

Discussion Questions
1. Why isn’t multitasking as good as one might think? Do you
agree that it’s a problem?
2. How do you multitask in your own life? Does it have an
effect on the quality of the tasks your are doing
3. Translate the three steps outlined to be more productive to
your own daily life. Could you follow them?
Managing Your Finances
Tips to better manage your money and reduce finance-related stress:
• Develop a realistic budget.
• Take care of bills immediately, and consider electronic banking.
• Educate yourself about how to manage your money.
• Avoid those tempting credit cards.
• Don’t get into debt.
Alternative Stress-Management Techniques
• Yoga, qigong, tai chi
• Meditation
• Breathing techniques
• Progressive muscle relaxation
• Visualization
• Hypnosis
• Massage therapy
• Biofeedback
Diaphragmatic Breathing

Copyright © 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

Developing Your Spiritual Side: Mindfulness
• Physical dimension: Interact with the natural environment.

• Emotional dimension: Focus on positive emotions through self-talk.

• Social dimension: Listen actively by taking note of content, intent, and

feelings expressed.

• Intellectual dimension: Use our minds for objective reasoning.