Stress and Stress Management - PYB4 - AQA

Stress and Stress Management section of PYB4

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  • Created on: 06-05-09 10:39

The Nature of Stress

Ways of Measuring Stress:

Physiological - Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, Respiration Rate and Galvanic Skin Response (GSR)

Advantages - Objective, Easily Quantified and Testable, Easy to Conduct. Disadvantages - Ethical and Methodological Issue (the test may cause stress itself), Does not identify Stressor, Cannot control Confounding and Extraneous Variables.

Behavioural - Observations and Measurements - Facial expression, Rate of Speech, Body Posture.

Advantages - Objective, Accurately Recorded, Quantifiable and Reliable. Disadvantages - Information about the persons normal behaviour is required, The person may behave differently because of the situation which they are in.

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The Nature of Stress

Self-Report - The Social Readjustment Rating Scale - considers the stress caused by major life events, recorded in Life Change Units.

Advantages - Quick, Quanitified, Identifies Stressors. Disadvantages - Retrospective, Subjective.

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The Nature of Stress

The Role of the Autonomic Nervous System: SAM

Main fuction is to regulate the bodies involuntary activities such as breathing.

It has both Parasympathetic and Sympathetic components.

Sympathetic - Increase Heart Rate, Digestion Inhabited, Pupil Dilate, Breathe Faser, Glucose Released.

Parasympathetic - Heart Rate Slow Down, Digestion Restart, Pupil Constricts, Breathing Slows, Glucose stops being released.

Hypathalamus triggers the Adrenal Medulla to release Adrenalin

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The Nature of Stress

The Endocrine System: HPA

This is not part of the ANS however it works in close association. The Endocrine System is entirely chemical.

Hypothalamus triggers the Pituitary Gland which releases ACTH into the Bloodstream which is then detected by the Adrenal Cortex which triggers the Endocrine Glands which releases Cortisol.


The alarm reaction> shock: low arousal > countershock : increased arousal (HPA & SAM)

The stage of resistance> adaption becomes wearing : irritability and feeling run down.

The stage of exhaustion> physiological damage becomes increasingly likely.

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Physiological Factors

Behaviour Types - KEY STUDY

Friedman and Rosenman 1974: To explain the physiological consequences of stress.

Method: 3,500 healthy employed middle aged men were categorised into personality types using a questionnaire. This was after a suggestion made by the men's wives that the stress of their work was causing them ill health.

Results: Type A were twice as likely to develop and die of Coronary Heart Disease. At it's end 257 men had suffered heart attacks, 69% of which were Type A.

Type A: High stress levels.

Type B: Low levels of competativeness, time urgency and hostility.

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Physiological Factors

Type C: Mild mannered, easy going and industrious and conventional. They may not react well to stress and find it difficult to express emotion.

Greer and Morris 1975 - Woman diagnosed with breast cancer showed significantly more emotional suppression than those with benign breast disease.

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Physiological Factors

Locus of Control: Modify the effect of stress

Internal Locus of Control - Control over what happens to them. Stressful jobs are made easier by controlling aspects of it.

External Locus of Control - Control lays with other forces such as luck at circumstances more likely to stress.


Control - sense of personal control.

Commitment - sense of involvement in life including other people.

Challenges - view of opportunity.

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Physiological Factors

The Role of Interpersonal Factors:

Emotional - Caring, empathy and concern shown provides comfort and reassurance.

Esteem - Make someone feel valued, positive regard, positive comparison, encouragement and agreement.

Instrumental - Help with jobs or lending money in times of stress.

Informational - Useful info a person may get from social contacts.

Appraisal - Encouraged to evaluate their own stress state and stress in context.

Advantages: Buffering Hypothesis - Feeling like the support is there makes it feel easier to deal with. The social network provides answers. Direct Effects Hypothesis - Enhances health mentally and physically.

Disadvantages: Individual differences. Health damaging behaviours such as drinking and smoking may be encouraged by the social network.

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Coping With Stress

Problem Focused Coping Strategies:

Planful problem solving - creating a plan of aciton.

Confronting - head on resolution.

Emotion Focused Coping Strategies:

Distancing - making a joke or ignoring it.

Self Controlling - bottled up.

Seeking social support - getting it off your chest.

Accepting Responsibility

Escape Avoidance - doing something else.

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Positive Apraisal - finding a silver lining.

Advantages: Helpful in resolution of stress. Lower levels of depression.

Disadvantages: Coping behaviours are not always this clear cut!

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Coping With Stress

Defence Mechanisms:

Regression - individual flees from reality into a more infantile state.

Repression - unpleasant memories, wishes or feelings are forced into unconscious mind.

Rationalisation - acceptable rational explanation is given to unacceptable behaviour.

Denial - an unconscious refusal to recognise some aspect of reality.

Avoidance Strategies: Can help in short term in prolonged stress like serious illness.

Approach Strategies: More effective in long term process of coping.

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Managing Stress

Biofeedback: Controlling involuntary phsyiological responses by receiving information or feedback about those responses as they occur.

Disadvantages: It is hard to differentiate the effect of biofeedback and the effect of the relaxtion techniques. Real world stress cannot always be dealt with in this way.

Systematic Desensitisation: A hierachy of 10 to 15 steps. Client learns deep muscle relaxation. Increasingly threatening sitatutions are identified and the client goes through these steps whilst in a state of relaxation untill relaxtion is reassociated with a situation which previously caused stress.

Disadvantages: SD only treats the behaviour not the underlying cause of stress. Real life application?

Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy: Ellis (1962). THerapist challenges the client to examine their beliefs and realise how irrational and damaging they are. ABCDE framework

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Disadvantages: Little conclusion on its effectiveness though evidence suggests it works.

Hypnosis: An altered state of consciousness where a person has heightened suggestability and concentration of attention.

Disadvantages: No real evidence for it's effectiveness. Similar to relaxation.

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