NCERT Textbook - Meeting Life Challenges Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Psychology Class 12

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Meeting Life Challenges Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Psychology
50
MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES
MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES
Introduction
Nature, Types and Sources of Stress
A Measure of Stressful Life Events (Box 3.1)
Effects of Stress on Psychological Functioning and Health
Examination Anxiety (Box 3.2)
Stress and Health
General Adaptation Syndrome
Stress and Immune System
Lifestyle
Coping with Stress
Stress Management Techniques
Promoting Positive Health and Well-being
Life Skills
Resilience and Health (Box 3.3)
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand the nature, types and sources of stress as life challenges,
examine the effects of stress on psychological functioning,
learn ways to cope with stress,
know about the life skills that help people to stay healthy, and
understand the factors that promote positive health and well-being.
Page 2


Psychology
50
MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES
MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES
Introduction
Nature, Types and Sources of Stress
A Measure of Stressful Life Events (Box 3.1)
Effects of Stress on Psychological Functioning and Health
Examination Anxiety (Box 3.2)
Stress and Health
General Adaptation Syndrome
Stress and Immune System
Lifestyle
Coping with Stress
Stress Management Techniques
Promoting Positive Health and Well-being
Life Skills
Resilience and Health (Box 3.3)
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand the nature, types and sources of stress as life challenges,
examine the effects of stress on psychological functioning,
learn ways to cope with stress,
know about the life skills that help people to stay healthy, and
understand the factors that promote positive health and well-being.
Chapter 3 • Meeting Life Challenges
51
NATURE, TYPES AND SOURCES OF STRESS
While waiting to cross the road on a busy
Monday morning, you may be temporarily
stressed. But, because you are alert,
vigilant and aware of the danger, you are
able to cross the road safely. Faced with
any challenge, we put in additional efforts
and mobilise all our resources and the
support system to meet the challenge. All
the challenges, problems, and difficult
circumstances put us to stress. Thus, if
handled properly, stress increases the
Raj has been studying for his final examination which is going to take
place tomorrow morning. He studies till 1 a.m. in the night. Unable to
concentrate any more, he sets the alarm for 6 a.m. and tries to go off to
sleep. As he is very tense, he keeps tossing and turning in bed. Images
flash through his mind of not being able to secure the marks he needs to
opt for the subjects of his choice. He blames himself for fooling around with
his friends and not preparing thoroughly for the examination. In the morning
he wakes up with a heavy head, misses breakfast, and barely makes it in
time to school for his examination. He opens the question paper, his heart
pounding, hands clammy with sweat and then he feels his mind has gone
completely blank.
Some of you may have lived through an experience such as Raj’s. The
challenge posed by examinations is common to all students. You are perhaps,
already thinking about a career. What if you are denied this choice? Will
you give up? Life poses challenges all the time. Think of a child who loses
her/his parents at a young age with no one to take care of her/him; a
young woman who loses her husband in a car accident; parents who bring
up children who are physically or mentally challenged; young girls/boys
who have to spend long nights in call centres and then catch up on their
sleep during the day time. Look around yourself and you will find that life
is a big challenge. All of us try to meet these challenges in our own way.
Some of us succeed while others succumb to such life stresses. Life
challenges are not necessarily stressful. Much depends on how a challenge
is viewed. A number 11 batsman in a cricket team will view facing a fast
bowler’s delivery differently than would an opening batsman, who will
look forward to such a challenge. It is said that one’s best comes out when
one is challenged. We will like to consider in this chapter how a life condition
turns into a challenge or a cause of stress. Further, we will also see how
people respond to various life challenges as well as stressful situations.
Introduction
probability of one’s survival. Stress is like
electricity. It gives energy, increases
human arousal and affects performance.
However, if the electric current is too high,
it can fuse bulbs, damage appliances, etc.
High stress too can produce unpleasant
effects and cause our performance to
deteriorate. Conversely, too little stress
may cause one to feel somewhat listless
and low on motivation which may lead us
to perform slowly and less efficiently. It is
important to remember that not all stress
is inherently bad or destructive. ‘Eustress’
Page 3


Psychology
50
MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES
MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES
Introduction
Nature, Types and Sources of Stress
A Measure of Stressful Life Events (Box 3.1)
Effects of Stress on Psychological Functioning and Health
Examination Anxiety (Box 3.2)
Stress and Health
General Adaptation Syndrome
Stress and Immune System
Lifestyle
Coping with Stress
Stress Management Techniques
Promoting Positive Health and Well-being
Life Skills
Resilience and Health (Box 3.3)
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand the nature, types and sources of stress as life challenges,
examine the effects of stress on psychological functioning,
learn ways to cope with stress,
know about the life skills that help people to stay healthy, and
understand the factors that promote positive health and well-being.
Chapter 3 • Meeting Life Challenges
51
NATURE, TYPES AND SOURCES OF STRESS
While waiting to cross the road on a busy
Monday morning, you may be temporarily
stressed. But, because you are alert,
vigilant and aware of the danger, you are
able to cross the road safely. Faced with
any challenge, we put in additional efforts
and mobilise all our resources and the
support system to meet the challenge. All
the challenges, problems, and difficult
circumstances put us to stress. Thus, if
handled properly, stress increases the
Raj has been studying for his final examination which is going to take
place tomorrow morning. He studies till 1 a.m. in the night. Unable to
concentrate any more, he sets the alarm for 6 a.m. and tries to go off to
sleep. As he is very tense, he keeps tossing and turning in bed. Images
flash through his mind of not being able to secure the marks he needs to
opt for the subjects of his choice. He blames himself for fooling around with
his friends and not preparing thoroughly for the examination. In the morning
he wakes up with a heavy head, misses breakfast, and barely makes it in
time to school for his examination. He opens the question paper, his heart
pounding, hands clammy with sweat and then he feels his mind has gone
completely blank.
Some of you may have lived through an experience such as Raj’s. The
challenge posed by examinations is common to all students. You are perhaps,
already thinking about a career. What if you are denied this choice? Will
you give up? Life poses challenges all the time. Think of a child who loses
her/his parents at a young age with no one to take care of her/him; a
young woman who loses her husband in a car accident; parents who bring
up children who are physically or mentally challenged; young girls/boys
who have to spend long nights in call centres and then catch up on their
sleep during the day time. Look around yourself and you will find that life
is a big challenge. All of us try to meet these challenges in our own way.
Some of us succeed while others succumb to such life stresses. Life
challenges are not necessarily stressful. Much depends on how a challenge
is viewed. A number 11 batsman in a cricket team will view facing a fast
bowler’s delivery differently than would an opening batsman, who will
look forward to such a challenge. It is said that one’s best comes out when
one is challenged. We will like to consider in this chapter how a life condition
turns into a challenge or a cause of stress. Further, we will also see how
people respond to various life challenges as well as stressful situations.
Introduction
probability of one’s survival. Stress is like
electricity. It gives energy, increases
human arousal and affects performance.
However, if the electric current is too high,
it can fuse bulbs, damage appliances, etc.
High stress too can produce unpleasant
effects and cause our performance to
deteriorate. Conversely, too little stress
may cause one to feel somewhat listless
and low on motivation which may lead us
to perform slowly and less efficiently. It is
important to remember that not all stress
is inherently bad or destructive. ‘Eustress’
Psychology
52
is the term used to describe the level of
stress that is good for you and is one of
a person’s best assets for achieving peak
performance and managing minor crisis.
Eustress, however, has the potential of
turning into ‘distress’. It is this latter
manifestation of stress that causes our
body’s wear and tear. Thus, stress can be
described as the pattern of responses an
organism makes to stimulus event that
disturbs the equilibrium and exceeds a
person’s ability to cope.
Nature of Stress
The word stress has its origin in the Latin
words ‘strictus’, meaning tight or narrow
and ‘stringere’, the verb meaning to
tighten. These root words reflect the
internal feelings of tightness and
constriction of the muscles and breathing
reported by many people under stress.
Stress is often explained in terms of
characteristics of the environment that are
disruptive to the individual. Stressors are
events that cause our body to give the
stress response. Such events include
noise, crowding, a bad relationship, or the
daily commuting to school or office. The
reaction to external stressors is called
‘strain’ (see Fig.3.1).
Stress has come to be associated with
both the causes as well as effects. However,
this view of stress can cause confusion.
Hans Selye, the father of modern stress
research, defined stress as “the non-
specific response of the body to any
demand” that is, regardless of the cause of
the threat, the individual will respond with
the same physiological pattern of reactions.
Many researchers do not agree with this
definition as they feel that the stress
response is not nearly as general and non-
specific as Selye suggests. Different
stressors may produce somewhat different
patterns of stress reaction, and different
individuals may have different
characteristic modes of response. You may
recall the case of an opening batsman
mentioned earlier. Each one of us will see
the situation through our own eyes and it
is our perception of the demands, and our
ability to meet them, which will determine
whether we are feeling ‘stressed’ or not.
Stress is not a factor that resides in the
individual or the environment, instead it is
embedded in an ongoing process that
involves individuals transacting with their
social and cultural environments, making
appraisals of those encounters and
attempting to cope with the issues that
arise. Stress is a dynamic mental/cognitive
state. It is a disruption in homeostasis or
an imbalance that gives rise to a
requirement for resolution of that
imbalance or restoration of homeostasis.
The perception of stress is dependent
upon the individual’s cognitive appraisal of
events and the resources available to deal
with them. The stress process, based on
the cognitive theory of stress propounded
by Lazarus and his colleagues, is described
in Figure 3.2. An individual’s response to
a stressful situation largely depends upon
Fig.3.1 : Psychological Meaning of Stress
Page 4


Psychology
50
MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES
MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES
Introduction
Nature, Types and Sources of Stress
A Measure of Stressful Life Events (Box 3.1)
Effects of Stress on Psychological Functioning and Health
Examination Anxiety (Box 3.2)
Stress and Health
General Adaptation Syndrome
Stress and Immune System
Lifestyle
Coping with Stress
Stress Management Techniques
Promoting Positive Health and Well-being
Life Skills
Resilience and Health (Box 3.3)
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand the nature, types and sources of stress as life challenges,
examine the effects of stress on psychological functioning,
learn ways to cope with stress,
know about the life skills that help people to stay healthy, and
understand the factors that promote positive health and well-being.
Chapter 3 • Meeting Life Challenges
51
NATURE, TYPES AND SOURCES OF STRESS
While waiting to cross the road on a busy
Monday morning, you may be temporarily
stressed. But, because you are alert,
vigilant and aware of the danger, you are
able to cross the road safely. Faced with
any challenge, we put in additional efforts
and mobilise all our resources and the
support system to meet the challenge. All
the challenges, problems, and difficult
circumstances put us to stress. Thus, if
handled properly, stress increases the
Raj has been studying for his final examination which is going to take
place tomorrow morning. He studies till 1 a.m. in the night. Unable to
concentrate any more, he sets the alarm for 6 a.m. and tries to go off to
sleep. As he is very tense, he keeps tossing and turning in bed. Images
flash through his mind of not being able to secure the marks he needs to
opt for the subjects of his choice. He blames himself for fooling around with
his friends and not preparing thoroughly for the examination. In the morning
he wakes up with a heavy head, misses breakfast, and barely makes it in
time to school for his examination. He opens the question paper, his heart
pounding, hands clammy with sweat and then he feels his mind has gone
completely blank.
Some of you may have lived through an experience such as Raj’s. The
challenge posed by examinations is common to all students. You are perhaps,
already thinking about a career. What if you are denied this choice? Will
you give up? Life poses challenges all the time. Think of a child who loses
her/his parents at a young age with no one to take care of her/him; a
young woman who loses her husband in a car accident; parents who bring
up children who are physically or mentally challenged; young girls/boys
who have to spend long nights in call centres and then catch up on their
sleep during the day time. Look around yourself and you will find that life
is a big challenge. All of us try to meet these challenges in our own way.
Some of us succeed while others succumb to such life stresses. Life
challenges are not necessarily stressful. Much depends on how a challenge
is viewed. A number 11 batsman in a cricket team will view facing a fast
bowler’s delivery differently than would an opening batsman, who will
look forward to such a challenge. It is said that one’s best comes out when
one is challenged. We will like to consider in this chapter how a life condition
turns into a challenge or a cause of stress. Further, we will also see how
people respond to various life challenges as well as stressful situations.
Introduction
probability of one’s survival. Stress is like
electricity. It gives energy, increases
human arousal and affects performance.
However, if the electric current is too high,
it can fuse bulbs, damage appliances, etc.
High stress too can produce unpleasant
effects and cause our performance to
deteriorate. Conversely, too little stress
may cause one to feel somewhat listless
and low on motivation which may lead us
to perform slowly and less efficiently. It is
important to remember that not all stress
is inherently bad or destructive. ‘Eustress’
Psychology
52
is the term used to describe the level of
stress that is good for you and is one of
a person’s best assets for achieving peak
performance and managing minor crisis.
Eustress, however, has the potential of
turning into ‘distress’. It is this latter
manifestation of stress that causes our
body’s wear and tear. Thus, stress can be
described as the pattern of responses an
organism makes to stimulus event that
disturbs the equilibrium and exceeds a
person’s ability to cope.
Nature of Stress
The word stress has its origin in the Latin
words ‘strictus’, meaning tight or narrow
and ‘stringere’, the verb meaning to
tighten. These root words reflect the
internal feelings of tightness and
constriction of the muscles and breathing
reported by many people under stress.
Stress is often explained in terms of
characteristics of the environment that are
disruptive to the individual. Stressors are
events that cause our body to give the
stress response. Such events include
noise, crowding, a bad relationship, or the
daily commuting to school or office. The
reaction to external stressors is called
‘strain’ (see Fig.3.1).
Stress has come to be associated with
both the causes as well as effects. However,
this view of stress can cause confusion.
Hans Selye, the father of modern stress
research, defined stress as “the non-
specific response of the body to any
demand” that is, regardless of the cause of
the threat, the individual will respond with
the same physiological pattern of reactions.
Many researchers do not agree with this
definition as they feel that the stress
response is not nearly as general and non-
specific as Selye suggests. Different
stressors may produce somewhat different
patterns of stress reaction, and different
individuals may have different
characteristic modes of response. You may
recall the case of an opening batsman
mentioned earlier. Each one of us will see
the situation through our own eyes and it
is our perception of the demands, and our
ability to meet them, which will determine
whether we are feeling ‘stressed’ or not.
Stress is not a factor that resides in the
individual or the environment, instead it is
embedded in an ongoing process that
involves individuals transacting with their
social and cultural environments, making
appraisals of those encounters and
attempting to cope with the issues that
arise. Stress is a dynamic mental/cognitive
state. It is a disruption in homeostasis or
an imbalance that gives rise to a
requirement for resolution of that
imbalance or restoration of homeostasis.
The perception of stress is dependent
upon the individual’s cognitive appraisal of
events and the resources available to deal
with them. The stress process, based on
the cognitive theory of stress propounded
by Lazarus and his colleagues, is described
in Figure 3.2. An individual’s response to
a stressful situation largely depends upon
Fig.3.1 : Psychological Meaning of Stress
Chapter 3 ? Meeting Life Challenges
53
the perceived events and how they are
interpreted or appraised. Lazarus has
distinguished between two types of
appraisal, i.e. primary and secondary.
Primary appraisal refers to the perception
of a new or changing environment as
positive, neutral or negative in its
consequences. Negative events are
appraised for their possible harm, threat
or challenge. Harm is the assessment of
the damage that has already been done by
an event. Threat is the assessment of
possible future damage that may be
brought about by the event. Challenge
appraisals are associated with more
confident expectations of the ability to cope
with the stressful event, the potential to
overcome and even profit from the event.
When we perceive an event as stressful, we
are likely to make a secondary appraisal,
which is the assessment of one’s coping
abilities and resources and whether they
will be sufficient to meet the harm, threat
or challenge of the event. These resources
may be mental, physical, personal or
social. If one thinks one has a positive
attitude, health, skills and social support
to deal with the crises s/he will feel less
stressed. This two-level appraisal process
determines not only our cognitive and
behavioural responses but also our
emotional and physiological responses to
external events.
These appraisals are very subjective
and will depend on many factors. One
factor is the past experience of dealing
with such a stressful condition. If one
has handled similar situations very
Fig.3.2 : A General Model of the Stress Process
Page 5


Psychology
50
MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES
MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES MEETING LIFE CHALLENGES
Introduction
Nature, Types and Sources of Stress
A Measure of Stressful Life Events (Box 3.1)
Effects of Stress on Psychological Functioning and Health
Examination Anxiety (Box 3.2)
Stress and Health
General Adaptation Syndrome
Stress and Immune System
Lifestyle
Coping with Stress
Stress Management Techniques
Promoting Positive Health and Well-being
Life Skills
Resilience and Health (Box 3.3)
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand the nature, types and sources of stress as life challenges,
examine the effects of stress on psychological functioning,
learn ways to cope with stress,
know about the life skills that help people to stay healthy, and
understand the factors that promote positive health and well-being.
Chapter 3 • Meeting Life Challenges
51
NATURE, TYPES AND SOURCES OF STRESS
While waiting to cross the road on a busy
Monday morning, you may be temporarily
stressed. But, because you are alert,
vigilant and aware of the danger, you are
able to cross the road safely. Faced with
any challenge, we put in additional efforts
and mobilise all our resources and the
support system to meet the challenge. All
the challenges, problems, and difficult
circumstances put us to stress. Thus, if
handled properly, stress increases the
Raj has been studying for his final examination which is going to take
place tomorrow morning. He studies till 1 a.m. in the night. Unable to
concentrate any more, he sets the alarm for 6 a.m. and tries to go off to
sleep. As he is very tense, he keeps tossing and turning in bed. Images
flash through his mind of not being able to secure the marks he needs to
opt for the subjects of his choice. He blames himself for fooling around with
his friends and not preparing thoroughly for the examination. In the morning
he wakes up with a heavy head, misses breakfast, and barely makes it in
time to school for his examination. He opens the question paper, his heart
pounding, hands clammy with sweat and then he feels his mind has gone
completely blank.
Some of you may have lived through an experience such as Raj’s. The
challenge posed by examinations is common to all students. You are perhaps,
already thinking about a career. What if you are denied this choice? Will
you give up? Life poses challenges all the time. Think of a child who loses
her/his parents at a young age with no one to take care of her/him; a
young woman who loses her husband in a car accident; parents who bring
up children who are physically or mentally challenged; young girls/boys
who have to spend long nights in call centres and then catch up on their
sleep during the day time. Look around yourself and you will find that life
is a big challenge. All of us try to meet these challenges in our own way.
Some of us succeed while others succumb to such life stresses. Life
challenges are not necessarily stressful. Much depends on how a challenge
is viewed. A number 11 batsman in a cricket team will view facing a fast
bowler’s delivery differently than would an opening batsman, who will
look forward to such a challenge. It is said that one’s best comes out when
one is challenged. We will like to consider in this chapter how a life condition
turns into a challenge or a cause of stress. Further, we will also see how
people respond to various life challenges as well as stressful situations.
Introduction
probability of one’s survival. Stress is like
electricity. It gives energy, increases
human arousal and affects performance.
However, if the electric current is too high,
it can fuse bulbs, damage appliances, etc.
High stress too can produce unpleasant
effects and cause our performance to
deteriorate. Conversely, too little stress
may cause one to feel somewhat listless
and low on motivation which may lead us
to perform slowly and less efficiently. It is
important to remember that not all stress
is inherently bad or destructive. ‘Eustress’
Psychology
52
is the term used to describe the level of
stress that is good for you and is one of
a person’s best assets for achieving peak
performance and managing minor crisis.
Eustress, however, has the potential of
turning into ‘distress’. It is this latter
manifestation of stress that causes our
body’s wear and tear. Thus, stress can be
described as the pattern of responses an
organism makes to stimulus event that
disturbs the equilibrium and exceeds a
person’s ability to cope.
Nature of Stress
The word stress has its origin in the Latin
words ‘strictus’, meaning tight or narrow
and ‘stringere’, the verb meaning to
tighten. These root words reflect the
internal feelings of tightness and
constriction of the muscles and breathing
reported by many people under stress.
Stress is often explained in terms of
characteristics of the environment that are
disruptive to the individual. Stressors are
events that cause our body to give the
stress response. Such events include
noise, crowding, a bad relationship, or the
daily commuting to school or office. The
reaction to external stressors is called
‘strain’ (see Fig.3.1).
Stress has come to be associated with
both the causes as well as effects. However,
this view of stress can cause confusion.
Hans Selye, the father of modern stress
research, defined stress as “the non-
specific response of the body to any
demand” that is, regardless of the cause of
the threat, the individual will respond with
the same physiological pattern of reactions.
Many researchers do not agree with this
definition as they feel that the stress
response is not nearly as general and non-
specific as Selye suggests. Different
stressors may produce somewhat different
patterns of stress reaction, and different
individuals may have different
characteristic modes of response. You may
recall the case of an opening batsman
mentioned earlier. Each one of us will see
the situation through our own eyes and it
is our perception of the demands, and our
ability to meet them, which will determine
whether we are feeling ‘stressed’ or not.
Stress is not a factor that resides in the
individual or the environment, instead it is
embedded in an ongoing process that
involves individuals transacting with their
social and cultural environments, making
appraisals of those encounters and
attempting to cope with the issues that
arise. Stress is a dynamic mental/cognitive
state. It is a disruption in homeostasis or
an imbalance that gives rise to a
requirement for resolution of that
imbalance or restoration of homeostasis.
The perception of stress is dependent
upon the individual’s cognitive appraisal of
events and the resources available to deal
with them. The stress process, based on
the cognitive theory of stress propounded
by Lazarus and his colleagues, is described
in Figure 3.2. An individual’s response to
a stressful situation largely depends upon
Fig.3.1 : Psychological Meaning of Stress
Chapter 3 ? Meeting Life Challenges
53
the perceived events and how they are
interpreted or appraised. Lazarus has
distinguished between two types of
appraisal, i.e. primary and secondary.
Primary appraisal refers to the perception
of a new or changing environment as
positive, neutral or negative in its
consequences. Negative events are
appraised for their possible harm, threat
or challenge. Harm is the assessment of
the damage that has already been done by
an event. Threat is the assessment of
possible future damage that may be
brought about by the event. Challenge
appraisals are associated with more
confident expectations of the ability to cope
with the stressful event, the potential to
overcome and even profit from the event.
When we perceive an event as stressful, we
are likely to make a secondary appraisal,
which is the assessment of one’s coping
abilities and resources and whether they
will be sufficient to meet the harm, threat
or challenge of the event. These resources
may be mental, physical, personal or
social. If one thinks one has a positive
attitude, health, skills and social support
to deal with the crises s/he will feel less
stressed. This two-level appraisal process
determines not only our cognitive and
behavioural responses but also our
emotional and physiological responses to
external events.
These appraisals are very subjective
and will depend on many factors. One
factor is the past experience of dealing
with such a stressful condition. If one
has handled similar situations very
Fig.3.2 : A General Model of the Stress Process
Psychology
54
successfully in the past, they would be less
threatening for her/him. Another factor is
whether the stressful event is perceived as
controllable, i.e. whether one has mastery
or control over a situation. A person who
believes that s/he can control the onset of
a negative situation, or its adverse
consequences, will experience less amount
of stress than those who have no such
sense of personal control. For example, a
sense of self-confidence or efficacy can
determine whether the person is likely to
appraise the situation as a threat or a
challenge. Thus, the experience and
outcome of a stressor may vary from
individual to individual. Stress, includes all
those environmental and personal events,
which challenge or threaten the well-being
of a person. These stressors can be
external, such as environmental (noise, air
pollution), social (break-up with a friend,
loneliness) or psychological (conflict,
frustration) within the individual.
Very often, these stressors result in a
variety of stress reactions, which may be
physiological, behavioural, emotional, and
cognitive (see Fig.3.2). At the physiological
level, arousal plays a key role in stress-
related behaviours. The hypothalamus
initiates action along two pathways. The
first pathway involves the autonomic
nervous system. The adrenal gland
releases large amount of catecholamines
(epinephrine and norepinephrine) into the
blood stream. This leads to physiological
changes seen in fight-or-flight response.
The second pathway involves the pituitary
gland, which secretes the corticosteroid
(cortisol) which provides energy. The
emotional reactions to experience of stress
include negative emotions such as fear,
anxiety, embarrassment, anger, depression
or even denial. The behavioural responses
are virtually limitless, depending on the
nature of the stressful event. Confrontative
action against the stressor (fight) or
withdrawal from the threatening event
(flight) are two general categories of
behavioural responses. Cognitive
responses include beliefs about the harm
or threat an event poses and beliefs about
its causes or controllability. These include
responses such as inability to concentrate,
and intrusive, repetitive or morbid
thoughts.
As indicated in Figure 3.2, the stresses
which people experience also vary in terms
of intensity (low intensity vs. high
intensity), duration (short-term vs. long-
term), complexity ( less complex vs. more
complex) and predictability (unexpected
vs. predictable). The outcome of stress
depends on the position of a particular
stressful experience along these
dimensions. Usually more intense,
prolonged or chronic, complex and
unanticipated stresses have more negative
consequences than have less intense,
short-term, less complex and expected
stresses. An individual’s experiences of
stress depend on the physiological strength
of that person. Thus, individuals with poor
physical health and weak constitution
would be more vulnerable than would be
those who enjoy good health and strong
constitution.
Psychological characteristics like
mental health, temperament, and self-
concept are relevant to the experience of
stress. The cultural context in which we
live determines the meaning of any event
and defines the nature of response that is
expected under various conditions. Finally,
the stress experience will be determined by
the resources of the person, such as
money, social skills, coping style, support
networks, etc. All these factors determine
the appraisal of a given stressful situation.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress
The way we respond to stress varies
depending upon our personality, early
upbringing and life experiences. Everyone
has their own pattern of stress response.
Read More
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