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A state of physiological or psychological arousal in response to threatening or challenging events
Stress involves an individual’s perception that the challenges they are facing exceed the ability to cope
A positive psychological response to a stressor that energises us to perform at our optimum (e.g. enthusiastic, excited, active, alert)
A negative psychological response to a stressor that drains energy and lowers performance (e.g. anger, anxiety, nervousness, irritability, tension)
Psychological responses to stress
- Behavioural changes: strained facial expressions, hand tremors, sleep disturbances, eating changes, aggressive behaviour
- Emotional changes: anxiousness, depressed, angry, helpless, negative attitude
- Cognitive changes: perceptions, ability to learn, exaggerated thoughts, poor concentration
- CATASTROPHISING – over emphasising the impact of negative events
Fight or Flight response
An automatic, adaptive response in which the sympathetic nervous system is activated causing an increase in level of arousal, mobilising the body to either confront or avoid a stressor.
- A chain of hormonal responses aimed at controlling
- the reactions of stress
- Hypothalamus activates when stressor is present
- Pituitary gland secretes hormone ACTH
- ACTH travels through blood
- Adrenal glands secrete cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline; fight-flight is activated
Lazarus & Folkman’s Transactional Model of Stress and Coping
Focuses on the cognitive component of stress. Stress is regarded as an interaction between the person and the environment; where the person’s individual interpretation determines if the situation is stressful and if they can cope.
of a potentially stressful situation in which the person assesses
the situation as stressful, benign or irrelevant
- and if stressful, evaluate the significance:
- Harm/loss: how much damage has already occurred
- Threat: harm/loss that may not have occurred yet but could occur in the future
- Challenge: involves an assessment of the potential for personal gain or growth from the situation
The stage where the person considers what options and resources (internal/external) are available to them and how they will respond to a stressor
of which feelings will be experienced
with any option associated
with stress or fight-or-flight options.
- Primary appraisal: the person predicts what feelings the given situation will produce.
- Secondary appraisal: the person predicts the possible emotional impact of each potential response.
Transactional Model - Strengths
- - Used human subject
- - Used a cognitive approach to stress
- - Focused on how people cope with psychological stress
- - Took both mental processes and emotions into account when examining how a person interprets a situation as stressful or not
Transactional Model - Limitations
- - Lack of emphasis on the physiological elements of the stress response
- - Does not consider social, cultural or environmental factors in perception of stress
- - Lack of empirical evidence
Social, Cultural & Environmental factors that EXACERBATE stress
Social: social readjustment/major life events, social isolation
Cultural: acculturation (adopting new culture), racism
Environmental: poverty, crowding, catastrophe
Social, Cultural & Environmental factors that ALLEVIATE stress
Social: social readjustment/major life events, social support
Cultural: cultural participation, ethnic enclaves
Environmental: employment - access to basic necessities, avoidance - policy to minimise crowing, stress inoculation
Refers to the body’s ability to maintain a balance in day-to-day automatic functions by adjusting and changing to meet internal and external demands. It helps the body achieve stability by changing.
It is the process of returning metabolic rate to a balanced state of homeostasis
The accumulated number of stressors that a person is experiencing.
- - Multiple stressors lead to recurrent and frequent activation of the fight-flight response
- - This has a cumulative effect (allostatic overload) that can result in wear and tear due to frequent exposure to stress hormones
Coping - Biofeedback
A technique that enables an individual to receive information about bodily responses, and with appropriate training, learn to control responses using thought processes and relaxation techniques
Criticism: often doesn’t work outside lab setting
Coping - Meditation and Relaxation
Meditation: an intentional attempt to bring about a deeply relaxed state in order to reduce effects of stress-related symptoms.
Relaxation: any activity that brings about a state of reduced psychological and/or physiological tension.
Coping - Physical Exercise
Refers to an activity that requires exertion with the purpose of improving physical fitness or health.
- - Uses up HPA hormones
- - Endorphins
- - Releases muscle tension
Coping - Social Support (A TIE)
- Appraisal support: Improves understanding of situation
- Tangible assistance: Material support (financial, food, etc)
- Information support: specific advice on dealing stress.
- Emotional support: targets emotional reactions by reassuring a person under stress that they are an individual who is cared for and valued.
Transactional Model - Coping
Coping: changing cognitive and behavioural efforts to meet stressors
Reappraisal: going back over an earlier stressor to determine if it warrants further attention
Problem-focused coping: Fix the source of stress
Emotional-focused coping: strategies to deal with emotional responses to the stressor
A reaction that involves physiological and psychological changes a person experiences when confronted by a stressor