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Stress & management



Which of these 2 situations do you believe would be more stressful?


Stress researchers would say that the second situation is more stressful.  This is because the more major life changes you are experiencing, the more stress you are likely to feel.


Stress can be defined as the specific response of the body to any demand made on it. Any reaction or response your body makes to a new situation is stress.

Eustress,  or good stress-- the kind of pleasant, desirable stress you might feel when playing tennis or attending a party.

Distress, or bad stress-- the kind of stress you might feel during an illness or when going through a divorce.

Stress is your body's reaction to a new situation.

A stressor is the situation or event itself that caused your body to react.

Any change can be stressful, especially major life changes.  However, according to some stress researchers, the daily hassles that everyone experiences can be very stressful as well, possibly even more so because they happen more frequently and seem to pile up on top of one another.

Major life changes are changes in your life such as divorce, that increase daily hassles, leaving you stressed and worn out.

Daily hassles are the daily annoyances, such as getting stuck in traffic or misplacing your keys, that can cause stress in your life.

Chronic stressors are inescapable, day-to-day situations or conditions that cause stress.



External stressors can include anything and everything from outside sources that causes you pain or discomfort, frustration, or conflict.

1.  Pain or discomfort.  Chronic or even temporary pain can make you feel stressed and lower your job performance

2.  Frustration.  Frustration can be defined as the feeling you get when a goal you are trying to attain is blocked.

3.  Inner conflict.  Inner conflict is the kind of pressure you feel when you are forced to make a choice.


There are several kinds of inner conflict: approach-approach, approach-avoid, avoid-avoid.

The first of these, approach-approach, is the feeling of conflict you get when torn between two desirable goals.  For example, you may really like your job and enjoy your coworkers, but when offered a promotion, you are also excited about the prospect of making more money.  You want to stay in your current job and not move away from friends, but you also want the promotion that would give you more money. You can't have both at the same time

An approach-avoid conflict occurs when you are drawn toward and away from something at the same time.  For example, you may really want that promotion, but it would mean transferring to another state, and you are reluctant to pull up stakes and start over again somewhere else

An avoid-avoid  occurs when you are torn between two undesirable options.  For example, you may not get along with your supervisor and you may dread going to work each day, but at the same time you hate the idea of pounding the pavement looking for a new job.



Internal stressors are your perceptions of stressors which may very depending on personality

Two basic internal factors are their cognitive appraisal of each situation, and their individual personality factors.

1.  Cognitive appraisal is the thinking evaluation of an event or situation that varies from person to person and, for an individual person, from day to day.  Cognitive appraisal varies not only from person to person, but from day to day the same person or the same situation

2.  The unnecessary stress of irrational beliefs.  These irrational beliefs include such things as believing that everyone must like you, or that you must never make mistakes.  As worst, some people catastrophize, or turn an irrational belief into an imagined catastrophe.



Ellis' ABC Approach to Stress

This formula illustrates how stress develops inside of people.  An activating event triggers people to form a belief about it, which in turn shapes the consequences.


Ten Irrational Beliefs

Although everyone has irrational beliefs, according to Ellis, each person has a different set of them.  Ten of the most common ones can be summarized as follows:


Irrational belief #1:  I must have love or approval from all of the people who are important to me.

Irrational belief #2:  I must prove myself to be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving at something important.

Irrational belief #3:  When people act obnoxiously or unfairly, they should be blamed for being bad, rotten, or wicked individuals.

Irrational belief #4:  When I am seriously frustrated, treated unfairly, or rejected, I must view the situation as awful, terrible, horrible, and catastrophic.

Irrational belief #5:  Emotional misery comes from external pressures and I have little ability to control or change my feelings.

Irrational belief #6:  If something seems dangerous or fearsome, I must preoccupy myself, with it and make myself anxious about it.

Irrational belief #7:  It is better to avoid facing my difficulties and responsibilities than it is to use self-discipline to obtain rewarding things.

Irrational belief #8:  My past experiences remain all important.  Since something once strongly influenced my life, it has to keep determining my feelings and behavior today.

Irrational belief #9:  It is awful horrible if I do not find good solutions to life's grim realities.

Irrational belief #10:  I can achieve maximum happiness by inertia or inaction or by passively and uncommitedly "enjoying myself."



Type A personalities are seen as impatient, hostile perfectionists with a sense of time urgency.

Type B personalities are more flexible, more relaxed, better able to delegate work, and less-time urgent.

Two bits of folk wisdom are sometimes heard about Type A and Type B people in the workplace.  The first is that top-level executives are likely to be Type B, with Type A assistants frantically running around doing their work for them.  This is because Type Bs can delegate responsibility, while Type As are such perfectionists that they have to do all the work them selves and will never get to the top because of this.

The second thing heard about Types A and B is that the road to becoming CEO is paved with the dead bodies of Type As ( presumably dead from heart attacks), with Type Bs stepping over the bodies on their way to the top.

The best point to learn from the Type A/ Type B personality theory and stress debate is that it is the most important for people to examine their behaviors of constant anger (sometimes call toxic hostility) and, to a lesser extent, time urgency (sometimes called hurry sickness) probably have worse health effects than does am overall personality type.

A hardy personality is a resilient personality type, characterized by the ability to meet challenges, a sense of commitment, and a feeling of being in control of life.

Regardless of the situation, these people seem to have three things in common-- the " three Cs" of a hardy personality: challenge, commitment and control.

Where others see terrible problems to overcome, they see challenges to meet. 

People with a hardy personality also have a sense of commitment

They feel that they are in control of their lives and in charge of what happens to them.



How our bodies Adapt to Stress

Hans Selye developed and tested a theory about what stress does to people physically.  He called it general adaptation syndrome or G.A.S.  According to this theory, when you are first confronted with a stressor, your body responds with an activation of the sympathetic nervous system.  this has come to be known as the fight -or-flight response.  During the fight-or-flight response, your body quickly ( in a matter of seconds) gets ready to confront or to escape the stressor by specific physical and chemical reactions.  These include increased heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, stomach acid, tensed muscles, and a sudden release of adrenaline.  When the fight-or-flight response is activated, according to Selye, you have entered the first stage of G.A.S., the alarm stage.

Once the alarm is sounded, you enter the second stage of G.A.S., the stage of adaptation. You adapt to the stressor and can usually return to normal.

In some cases, though, you are not able to adapt to a stressor and can end up using up (or exhausting) all of your physical resources.  You then enter the third stage of G.A.S., the stage of exhaustion. During this stage, the parasympathetic nervous system is still activated, so you appear relaxed, but the stressor is still present.  In this stage, you are unable to cope with the prolonged stressor, and you can become vulnerable to other stressors




The immune system serves three basic functions.  Briefly, these include:

1.  Recognizing foreign cell and attacking them.

2.  Developing antibodies to recognize foreign invaders in the future.

3.  Sending white blood cells and other helper cells to the location of an injury or infection to speed healing


Just by having chronic stress, you can actually weaken your immune system and fall victim to an illness that you would normally fight off with ease.





Stress-related problems cost the American economy more than $200 billion every year.  These costs are an estimate based on lower productivity due to stress, lost days of work, worker's compensation claims, insurance claims, and lawsuits that are result of stress-related illness or injuries.

Specific conditions on the job that employees reported as stressful included crowding, noise, air pollution, poor lightning, and uncomfortable temperatures.

Stressed employees were most likely than non-stressed employees to have accidents on the job, eat or smoke too much, have outbursts of anger, and abuse alcohol or other drugs

Stress impacts all areas of people's lives: physical health, mental health, social life, and job performance.




1. Take charge of your life.  Think of the 3 C's of the hardy personality

2.  Use humor.  Learn to see the humor in situations, and increase the amount of humor in your life

3.  Compare yourself to others.

4.  Take advantage of stress.  Learn from the situations

5.  Learn to live with unavoidable stress.  Learn to live with stressors you can avoid





1.  Use relation techniques

2.  Increase your fitness: eat well, and reduce smoking and drinking

3.  Make time for rest and leisure

4.  Get social support

5.  Try to reduce stress in the workplace

6.  Manage your time.

7.  Stop procrastinating






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