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Stress and Stress Management


Is defined as a disturbance in one’s state of physical and psychological equilibrium brought about by a disturbance in the world around you.

Stress is further defined as the following:

•Cluster of physiological responses to threat or harm

•Both physical and psychological stressors produce similar patterns of physiological changes.

•Acute stress is adaptive.

•Chronic stress is maladaptive.

•Stress response

•Hormonal basis for stress and involves the Activation of Hypothalamus-Anterior Pituitary-Adrenal Cortex System (HPA axis)

•Feedback loop involving actions of CRH, ACTH, and cortisol


Eustress: as stress that is healthy, or gives one a feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings

-Is a process of exploring potential gains.

Distress: refers to a state when an organism can not adapt to stress; has negative implications i.e. loss of functioning

-equally taxing on the body, and is cumulative in nature,

-Nb.: the body itself cannot physically discern between distress or eustress


Seyle’s concept of stress focused on the ways an organisms could be perturbed (brought into a state of confusion/worry) and the resulting physiological responses that accompany it. Seyle was responsible for the concept of the “general adaptation system” (a.k.a. body’s reaction to stress). Response was similar across diverse stimuli. He highlighted that physiological changes represented by these responses to the stressors


1.Alarm reaction



Phases of GAS

Alarm reaction (flight or fight response):

•Outpouring/Release of noradrenalin; cortisol; ACTH; GABA & activation of SNS

•Senses become sharper ; lightheadedness; tremors; pins & needles senstation; headache

•Eyes dilate ; dry mouth; globus ; heart beats faster

•Breathing & perspiration increases

•Muscle tense & swell; heat over the muscle; itching over muscle groups

•stomach clenches (hollow feeling in pit)


•Effects of alarm phase lessen as outpouring of stress hormones by pituitary gland ceases

•Takes much longer for the SNS or PNS to return to the normal resting state

•Organism adapts to the stressor; bear the negative consequences of the stressor

•Able to reason and to determine whether to fight or take flight


•Depletion of reserves i.e. blood glucose levels

•Organism may lack the strength to deal with stressor

•Organism dies if stressor too great or recovers fully in the course of time

Phase: alarm|adaptation|exhaustion


•Prolonged elevations in stress hormones may cause deleterious effects:

•prolonged increased blood pressure can predispose to heart disease

• result in muscle tissue damage

•growth retardation

•inhibition of inflammatory responses, slower healing, immunosuppression

•increased cell death in hippocampus (may accelerate aging processes)

•Stress related diseases

•Gastric Ulcers i.e Curling Ulcers


•Heart Disease


•Find connectedness: i.e. circle of friends; our families

•Seek advice and reassurance i.e. confidante

•Maintain a minimum of 7-8hrs sleep

•Eat properly i.e. nutritious diet and on time

•Ensure daily exercise of 20-30mins i.e. walking; jogging; aerobics

•Limit alcohol intake and misuse of other substances i.e. alcohol can be a depressant if ingested in large quantities

•Limit intake of caffeine products

•Find quiet alone time each day for meditation; relaxation and reflection; prayer

•Know your limitations; you are not perfect

•Add structure to your life i.e. keep appts; keep home organized; keys in same place

•Minimize catastrophic thinking

•Limit your exposure to the news

•Keep yourself financially secure i.e. live below your means; put more into savings account

Learn the value of judicious complaining i.e. talk your way through a problem; ventilate to a trusted friend or confidante

Learn how to let go of worries i.e. write them down on piece of paper and then tear up the paper afterward; lean on a higher power; deep breathing techniques and graduated muscle relaxation

Don’t sweat the small stuff


1.Self Observation-client keeps daily record of behavior

2.Cognitive Restructuring- insistence that cognition plays a central role in the stress and coping process; dysfunctional ANTs/Automatic Negative Thoughts:


“Always” thinking: i.e. always; never, no-one, every one

Focusing on the negative: only seeing the bad in every situation

Fortune Telling: predicting the worse outcome to a situation

Mindreading: believing that you know what another person is thinking

Thinking with your feelings: believing negative feelings w/o questioning them-


•Is there an alternative explanation?

•What is the evidence that the thought is true?

•What will be the effect of continuing to think this way?

•What is the best outcome, worst outcome, and most realistic outcome?

•What is the likelihood that this will happen?

3.Relaxation Training-teaching of relaxation skills

4. Time Mx-helps individuals restore a sense of balance in their lives

5.Problem Solving-id key problematic aspects of a stressful event; generating alternatives; evaluating alternatives; implement solutions

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