After reading this chapter, you will be able to:
1. Define the terms, stress, stressor, and stress response.
2. Explain the three stages of the stress response.
3. Define and give examples of eustress, distress, optimal stress,
acute stress, and chronic stress.
4. Explain how perception and control are involved in stress.
5. On the Life Event Stress Test, measure the number of life changes
you have encountered this year and be able to predict your
susceptibility to a stress-related illness.
6. Explain the difference between daily hassles and daily uplifts and
how each affects overall health.
7. Describe six harmful effects of too much stress.
8. Contrast Type A, Type B, Type C and Type D personalities.
9. Identify four questions that can be asked to manage and modify
10. List at least six strategies for managing stress.
11. Define and list at least five benefits of the relaxation response.
Stress: nonspecific response of the human
organism to any demand made upon it.
Stressor: factor causing stress.
Acute stress: body’s response to imminent
danger – most common type.
Chronic stress: caused by prolonged
physical or emotional stress, more than can
be coped with.
Optimal stress: stress is intense enough to
motivate and physically prepare us to
perform well but not enough to cause harm.
Distress: negative stress
Eustress: positive stress
Three-Stage Stress Response
Regardless of the cause, the reaction to
stressor is both psychological and
physiological and leads to the stress
Alarm Reaction: fight or flight physiological
and psychological responses appear.
Resistance: body tries to cope with the fight
or flight reaction through organ systems. If
the resistance stage is maintained, it can
lead to stress-related disease.
Exhaustion: resistance eventually fails and
signs of alarm reappear. Disease and
disability can result.
Perception and Control
Whether a particular stressor causes a
negative reaction depends on whether the
person perceives that stressor as being
Some people’s problems are related to faulty
Control is a major factor. The perception of not
having control is very stressful.
People who handle stress best tend to control
their lives and look for active solutions to the
problems and circumstances of their lives.
Ways to Gain Control Over Your
Recognize and understand what causes your
Make healthy lifestyle decisions.
Learn and implement time management
Learn when to say no.
Regularly practice relaxation techniques and
employ often the other stress-coping
strategies found in the chapter.
Harmful Effects of Stress
Psychosomatic disease: physical ailment
that is mentally induced.
The following can be developed by stress:
• Cardiovascular disease
• Migraine headaches
• Tension headaches
• Hay fever
• Rheumatoid arthritis
Psychoneuroimmunology and Stress
Specialized branch of medicine that studies
the mind-body connection.
Chronic negative emotions deplete the
Chronic stress and stress perceptions can
damage the immunity system.
Managing our stress is paramount. What we
think and feel can affect our physical and
Stress management techniques that calm the
mind and shift negative thinking can be
Cell Division and Telomeres
Telomeres, found on the strands of DNA that
make up our chromosomes, are like the little
plastic tips covering the ends of shoelaces
that keep the strands from unraveling.
The telomeres of people that have chronic
stress are almost 50% shorter.
Once the telomere is gone, the DNA begins
to fray and cannot be used, ultimately
contributing to aging.
Daily Hassles and Uplifts
Daily hassles are the events or interactions in your daily
life that you find bothersome, annoying or negative.
Daily hassles may be more detrimental to your health
than major negative life events.
Daily uplifts are positive events that make us feel good
and can reverse the negative effects of daily hassles.
A balance between hassles and uplifts, or allowing
yourself to feel more uplifts, can be the key to better
Pay attention to the uplifts. Allow yourself to feel happy
– even about small things.
Make a list of your hassles. What can you avoid or
delete? Make a list of your uplifts. How can you notice
organized, on time.
Body produces an extra
amount of stress
Take the positive
qualities and reduce
anger and hostility.
gain, creative, laid back,
Take the good and
reduce putting off
with negative emotions.
Tends to be depressed,
anxious, and insecure.
Exercise, relaxation and
a healthy diet can help.
The Hot Reactor
Produce a large amount
of harmful catecholamines
when stressed that
damage the heart and
increase risk for sudden
Faulty perceptions of
stressor – perceive nearly
every stressor as life and
Could be any personality
stopping, and relaxation
Other Stress Reduction Tips
Remind yourself that you are not in charge of
everything or everyone.
Live within your budget.
Simplify and unclutter your life.
Allow extra time to do things.
Listen to relaxing music.
Set time aside to laugh and play.
Worry about only the things you can control.
Weed out trivial things in your life.
Live in the present.
Journal the things you are thankful for each day.
The Stress-Resistant, Hardy Person
Type C personalities are hardy and possess the
following five traits.
Control – internal control of self.
Commitment – to meaningful involvement in
Challenge – is an opportunity rather than a
Choices – lifestyle choices that enhance
health. You always have a choice on how you
react to life.
Connectedness – network of social support,
helping and being helped by others.
Stress Management Skills
How you perceive and manage the stressor is
more important than the amount of stress.
Laughter and humor
Creating a memory bank
Avoid negative coping methods – drugs,
alcohol, cigarettes, sex, shopping, gambling,
Aerobic exercise promotes health and energy
and is a powerful antidote for stress, anxiety,
and even moderate depression.
Many physicians prescribe exercise instead
of medications or tranquilizers.
Exercise aids in the resistance phase of the
Exercise is a natural way to relax and renew
Exercise can change brain chemistry.
Practice the following relaxation techniques to
find the one that you feel most comfortable
using and that works for you.
Autogenic training and imagery
Jacobson’s Progressive Relaxation
Eat a healthy diet
Practice time management
Avoid alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes
Get 7-9 hours of restful sleep
Develop satisfying relationships
Learn when to seek the help and support
Schedule “Me Time” and listen to music.
Consciously reinterpreting a situation in
a more positive light.
Reframe life’s stumbling blocks into
Look on the bright side, take control of
your reactions, learn to be an optimist.
Optimists have higher hardiness
Laughter and Humor
Can provide psychological relief from tension,
anxiety, anger, hostility, and emotional pain.
Laughing is internal jogging as it causes endorphins
to be released in the brain. It helps relax the blood
vessels and blood circulation.
It provides a greater sense of control, lowers stress
hormones, and improves immune function.
Try to see the humor in everyday situations and don’t
be afraid to laugh at yourself.
Avoid humor that is at someone else’s expense.
Create a Memory Bank
Happiness comes from noticing and
enjoying the little things in life.
Savor special experiences of your life
and store them in your memory bank.
Journaling will help you remember
Allow yourself to remember pleasant
things and feel happy.
Rx for Action
Think of an act of kindness and then do it for a stranger.
Get 8 hours of sleep tonight.
Go to a humorous or uplifting movie or get a video/DVD of
Reflect on the meaningful people in your life. Connect with
two of them today via e-mail, telephone, or letter.
Watch a sunset tonight and/or a sunrise tomorrow.
Get your study area organized.
Write in a journal. Record the best things that have
happened to you this week.
Volunteer your services to a worthy project/group that
What Do You Think?
What are your most common stressors?
What creates eustress for you, and what creates
How could you change or shift your perceptions of
What are your daily hassles and daily uplifts? How
could you decrease the hassles and/or increase the
Have you ever experienced harmful effects from
What is your personality type?
What is the best strategy for reducing stress for you?
How often do you practice it?