Stress Management

Overview of the Stress Process

What are stressors?

Psychological Stressors

• events perceived as being a threat to you, your well-being or your goals

• often the perception that you will not be able to cope with the threatening events

Types of Stressors

• major life events (ie. death in the family)

• chronic stressful situations (ie. stressful work environment)

• daily hassles

Common Characteristics of Stressors

• overload- events are too intense for people to adapt

• too many things to do--time pressure

• standards for performance are too high

• conflicting decisions must often be made

• uncontrollability of the stressful events

• uncontrollability + overload tend to make for some of the most powerful stressors

How we respond to stress

Mental Arousal--disturbance of normal thinking ability

• difficulty organizing thoughts--mental confusion

• reduced ability to concentrate--easily distracted

• memory impairment

Emotional Arousal--experience uncomfortable or negative moods

• worry or anxiety--especially when anticipating extreme stress

• depression--especially when stress appears to be long term

• irritability or anger--low tolerance for frustration

Physical Arousal--prolonged stress can lead to disease

• increased heart rate and blood pressure

• increased muscle tension

• increased stomach and intestinal activity

Coping With Stress

Mental strategies for coping with stress

• reappraise the situation--positive thoughts will lead to positive results

• is it as bad as you think?

• what are your alternatives for handling the situation?

• self-monitoring--pay attention to yourself and how you feel

• Make the environment less stressful

• gain information about the stressors--what is it that Is stressful?

• change the environment so that you can anticipate stressors and maximize your amount of control

• can others help you?

Reduce physical arousal

• drugs--not a good long-term coping strategy

• physical exercise

• relaxation training