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Assignment 4 STRESS


SESSION 2009-2012




1. External Stressors a) Major Life Events

Research by Psychiatrists Drs Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe revealed a list of common causes of stress that most people would find stressful. A score of over three hundred points in one year indicates that you have a high risk of developing a stress related health problem. One of the weaknesses of the Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment scale is that it doesnt take into account the individuals personality, their perception of how difficult the stressor is, nor does it take into account how long the stressor continues for; the scale just gives a single number for each stressor. However, it s known that the longer a stressor continues, then the more likely it is to cause stress and that the individuals perception of an event is the key to whether they will find a situation stressful or not. For example, if a person is happy living in their house, theyve lived there for a number of years, have developed close friends in the area and do not want to move but are forced to move because their home is being repossessed, then they are going to find the event of moving infinitely far more stressful than a person who has lived in their home for a short time, next to a very noisy, difficult neighbour and who wants to move to get away from the noise. To help overcome some of the drawbacks of the Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment scale Professor Cary Cooper, of The University Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), has upgraded it by allocating a scale of 1 - 10 points for each event, so allowing a persons perception of how stressful the event is, to be taken into account. We have included a copy of Professor Coopers modified version in the course materials for you to view and use.

b) Daily Hassles
The majority of causes of stress that we face on a day-to-day basis are not as extreme as life events. The day-to-day causes of stress are called daily hassles; they are those daily, minor irritations such as misplacing our car keys, traffic jams, minor arguments with family/colleagues, etc. Research by Lazarus and Folkman (1984), at the University of California, indicated that it was the daily hassles rather than the major life events that affected us the most. Life events do not occur every day, but daily hassles do; its the constant, daily frustration caused by these hassles that cause us the most stress, because they occur so regularly and therefore can undermine our health.

Some Examples of Daily Hassles

Misplacing keys Arguments Traffic jams Time pressures Lack of sleep Fear of Crime Shopping

Bureaucracy Waiting Loneliness Queuing Pollution Gossip Relatives

Excess noise Inconsiderate people Difficult neighbours Car breakdown Meal Preparation Job dissatisfaction Office Politics Problems with children

2. Internal Stressors

"Stress resides neither in the situation nor in the person; it depends on a transaction between the two."

We tend to think that stress is solely caused by external events, situations and people, yet this is not strictly correct. Research has found that the Transactional Model of Stress is more accurate. This model says that stress is caused by a transaction, ie there is an interaction between the stressor, our view of the stressor and our perceived ability to cope with it. Its our own internal beliefs, attitudes, interpretations, perceptions and other factors, in combination with the external events that tend to create stress. Internal factors which influence how we perceive stress include our:

Beliefs Expectations Locus of control

Low assertion Low self esteem People pleasing

Perception Perfectionism Personality

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms
Cognitive Symptoms Emotional Symptoms

Memory problems Inability to concentrate Poor judgment Seeing only the negative Anxious or racing thoughts Constant worrying

Moodiness Irritability or short temper Agitation, inability to relax Feeling overwhelmed Sense of loneliness and isolation Depression or general unhappiness

Physical Symptoms
Aches and pains Diarrhea or constipation Nausea, dizziness Chest pain, rapid heartbeat Loss of sex drive Frequent colds

Behavioral Symptoms
Eating more or less Sleeping too much or too little Isolating yourself from others Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)


1. Talk about it. Sharing your feelings and concerns with your spouse/partner, a close friend, co-workers, a counselor or another person can help release some of the tension associated with your illness. Many women find joining a support group especially helpful. 2. Indulge yourself. Take a break from your worries by doing something you really enjoy whether its gardening, painting, reading, shopping or listening to music. 3. Choose wisely. When youre feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of life, step back and prioritize. Eliminate or postpone activities that arent absolutely necessary. Delegate certain tasks. Ask for help when you need it. 4. Get moving. Physical activitywalking, running, swimming, lifting weightsbenefits both the body and mind. Discuss any exercise plan with your doctor before getting started. 5. Imagine that. Close your eyes, visualize a peaceful setting, and breathe deeply. This technique is called imagery and, with practice, can help you create a feeling of relaxation any time you wish. 6. Keep the faith. Many women find their faith is a great comfort and rely on prayer as well as other spiritual activities to help relieve stress. 7. Write it down. Set aside time each day to write about your thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams. Just putting your thoughts down on paper in a diary or journal can help ease your mind. 8. Learn to relax. Yoga, massage therapy, tai chi, breathing techniques, aromatherapy, meditation and imagery are all relaxation techniques that can help reduce stress and possibly even improve your immune-system response. 9. Laugh it up. Watch a funny movie, read a comic strip, listen to apodcast, tell a joke. Humor can be a powerful antidote to stress. Seeing the lighter side of things helps put suffering in perspective, fills you with hope and takes your mind off your pain. 10. Tackle one thing at a time. Even the tasks of daily living can seem overwhelming when youre stressed out. The best way to cope is to concentrate on one task at a time. Checking off chores gives you a positive feeling and will help motivate you to keep going.