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Methods, Support, and Management of Stress

Methods, Support, and Management of Stress

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This lesson will compare and contrast emotion-focused coping and problem-focused coping. The importance of social support and stress management will be discussed.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

This lesson is going to cover stress management by looking at:

  1. Stress
  2. Coping with Stress

1. Stress

Stress is a body's reaction to changes within a person's environment. Introducing a stressor into a person's environment causes a person to react in certain ways. This is a normal reaction. It is a way of protecting people from potentially harmful situations in the short term. Stress in this kind of situation is called eustress, a good kind of stress. It helps to enhance a person's bodily functioning during a certain period of time and this is both mental and physical.

Example If a person is physically in danger then stress can be helpful because it causes them to get excited to get out of that situation. Another example would be if a person is taking a test then this heightened state of mental awareness and mental ability can help them to perform better in some situations.

Long term stress, however, can lead to a lot of mental and physical problems like fatigue or irritability. It can lead to decreased mental functioning over a long period of time. Other physical problems can include heart disease because of increased blood pressure over time, ulcers, and decreased immunological functioning in a person. This is why it is good to learn proper stress management.

Term to Know

    • Stress Management
    • Cognitive and behavioral skills that people learn for the purpose of reducing stress and its harmful effects.

Now this is particularly true today with an increased number of stressors all around us. Research has shown that people living in cities have much higher stress and anxiety levels than people that do not. They are more likely to develop mood or psychotic disorders, and they have a higher activation of the area of the brain called the amygdala, which is the area that's related to emotions.


2. Coping with Stress

Because of all of these new factors within our environments, it is important that a person deals with stress in the proper ways. There are two major approaches to coping with stress:

Problem-focused coping occurs when a person attempts to control the thing that caused the stress itself. This can be done in several different ways:

  • Removing the stressor

ExampleIf you hear a buzzing alarm that's going off, you go and you turn it off.

  • Removing yourself from a stressful situation.

Example If you can't turn off a fire alarm, you simply walk away so you don't have to hear the alarm.

Term to Know

    • Problem-Focused Coping
    • Attempting to control the thing causing the stress itself.

Emotion-focused coping is attempting to control a person's own mental or emotional reaction to the stressor itself. This is particularly useful in a situation that can't be escaped, and problem-focused coping will not work. Stress management techniques, which are cognitive and behavioral strategies that people can learn to reduce stress and its harmful effects.

ExampleA technique called guided imagery is an example of a stress management technique.

Term to Know

    • Emotion-Focused Coping
    • Attempting to control a person’s mental and emotional reaction to a stressor.

Understanding how your body is reacting to stressors can help you to control its reactions and reduce the amount of stress that you have. At its most basic level, this means being aware of when you're getting stressed out, and doing something to reduce the bodily reaction.

ExampleNoticing that you have an increased heart rate due to stress and taking a deep breath. Controlling your breathing helps to reduce the bodily reaction to stress that you have, and as a result, helps to reduce your stress.

This would be an example of biofeedback. Biofeedback is when a person gets information about their body's activities, and they can learn to control those reactions to prevent different kinds of problems or illnesses from developing. This has also been used to control the blood flow of a person to their heads, which can help to reduce the instances of migraines occurring in people.

Term to Know

    • Biofeedback
    • Giving a person information about their body’s activities.

Did You Know

At its most sensitive level, biofeedback has been used by Buddhist monks to actually control their body's temperature. This means that they have such an awareness of their body and what's happening that they're able to actually control the high or the low temperature that they might have.

One of the most important correlations to stress is the social support that a person has around them. The more friends and family around a person means, the better a person is able to deal with stressful events around them. They can talk to those people as a result of this, and can commiserate with things that are stressing them out.

Term to Know

    • Social Support
    • The quality and amount of relationships that a person has with others.

Social support also provides a person with a better feeling about themselves. More people around them means more people that are likely to tell the positive things about themselves and to make them feel better. Social support has been helpful in the treatment of almost every mental disorder.

Summary

Stress is the body’s reaction to changes in a person’s environment. Some of these ways are useful to a person, but long term stress can be harmful. Learning to cope with stress is very important. Two major approaches include problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping. You can also pay attention to your body’s reactions to stress and take steps to control it when you notice those reactions; this is biofeedback. Social support is also very important to managing stress as well as other mental health conditions.

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia Author Erick Taggart

Key Terms

Problem-Focused Coping
Attempting to control the thing causing the stress itself.


Emotion-Focused Coping
Attempting to control a person’s mental and emotional reaction to a stressor.


Stress Management
Cognitive and behavioral skills that people learn for the purpose of reducing stress and its harmful effects.


Biofeedback
Giving a person information about their body’s activities.


Social Support

The quality and amount of relationships that a person has with others.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Problem-Focused Coping

    Attempting to control the thing causing the stress itself.

  • Emotion-Focused Coping

    Attempting to control a person’s mental and emotional reaction to a stressor.

  • Stress Management

    Cognitive and behavioral skills that people learn for the purpose of reducing stress and its harmful effects.

  • Biofeedback

    Giving a person information about their body’s activities.

  • Social Support

    The quality and amount of relationships that a person has with others.