Stress What it is and how to cope
A definition of “stress” A combination of thoughts and worries that have negative affect on the body’s responses What do you think when you are stressed? What do you feel when you are stressed?
Phases of Stress • Alarm: sudden response to danger • Adrenaline rush followed by quick decrease when danger passes • Vigilance: stay alert, response level does not go down immediately • Free cortisol: hormone secreted by body in stress • When vigilant, builds up in your body’s fluids
Predictors of Stress • Negative situations • Positive situations • Personality—some are less able to adapt to stress • Introverts do not habituate well • Less reactive people can handle stress • Hassles—regular demands or inconveniences • Secondhand stress • People surrounding you are stressed • Women are more affected by this than men—women express, men withdraw
Negative Signs of Stress • Emotional signs • Irritability • People are low information processors—max out on info processing when stressed b/c constantly thinking of things • More information makes you angry, see everything as serious • Sadness, depression • Apathy • Anxiety • Free-floating anxiety: constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop • Mental fatigue • Forget things, what you meant to do • Overcompensate or live in denial by taking on extra work
Negative Signs of Stress • Behavioral • Avoidance • Other people stimulate us, so we stay away • Might this be good? • How can this be bad? • Do things to extremes • What do you do too much of when stressed? • Cause oneself administrative, legal problems • Rushing leads to accidents • How could this affect your family?
Negative Signs of Stress • Physical • Sleep too much, too little • Weight issues • Headaches, migraines • Digestive problems • Aches and pains • Get sick more because immune system is low • Over self-medicate • Injuries • Physical exhaustion—cannot get enough sleep
Coping with Stress • Time and situation management • Gather feedback about how you spend time • How can you measure how you spend your time? • P R I O R I T I Z E • What has the least consequence if you don’t do it? • What do you do now that you could stop doing?
Coping with Stress • Physiological and Behavior Strategies • Keep fit and avoid sickness • How does exercise help? • Activity makes us tired—sleep better • Eat well (more “good for you” foods) to metabolize better • Get rid of germs with healthy habits • Flu shots • Wash hands • Gargle with salt water • Relaxation techniques
Coping with Stress • Cognitive methods—change how you think • Replace irrational beliefs with reasonable thoughts • i.e., Perfectionism or total self-relianceacceptance of fallibility and asking others for help • Take a problem-solving approach—don’t just wallow in self-pity • Learn to say “No” and be assertive • Use ERA statements • Empathy • Rationale • Action
Communication Attributes of Less Stressed People • Self-disclose appropriately to a friend • Use positive self-statements and surround selves with positive people • 4 C’s • Commitment: what you do is important • In Control: internal locus of control, make choice to reduce stress • Challenge: view potential stressors as challenges, not problems • Conscientiousness: stay on task early on, get over stress early
Practicing Stress Management • Write for 15 minutes about things that stressed you recently and how they made you feel • Relaxation Response • Progressive Muscle Relaxation