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HEALTH COURSE: STRESS AND COPING
Transcript of HEALTH COURSE: STRESS AND COPING
What is stress?
When it all becomes too much...
Stress and Coping
We generally use the word "stress" when we feel that everything seems to have become too much - we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us.
can be a good motivaton
pressure encourages hard work, desire to succeed (if you are motivated enough)
good for deadlines, assignments, projects
too little stress is not good either - life with no stimuli is boring and leads to apathy
Stress warning signs and symptoms
The Dangers of Stress
Good ways of coping with stress
Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress and tension.
Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.
Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary "highs" caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, sweet soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.
Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.
Types of stress
This has been labeled the "fight-or-flight" response. Once the threat is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal relaxed state. When in stress, our bodies are prepared for muscular activity which we usually don't perform nowadays. That's why sports are the best stress relievers.
Unfortunately, the nonstop stress of modern life means that your alarm system rarely shuts off.
EUSTRESS (GOOD STRESS)
Examples: marriage, birth of a new family member, desired change of job, exam in your favorite subject
DISTRESS (BAD STRESS)
Examples: life during war, too much work or duties, relationship problems, financial problems, accidents
This is what people usually imagine when they hear the word stress. It is unhealthy, unpleasant and can have negative impact on all spheres of a person's life. Bad stress can be
(transient, temporary) - for example going to exams unprepared or being in a noisy traffic jam. Bad stress can also be
- like being unprepared all the time in a competitive school or being bullied for a long time.
causes anxiety or concern
can result in burn out and total inability to function well for a certain time
is perceived as outside of our coping abilities
can lead to mental and physical problems
Psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe developed a scale of common stressful life events with different 'stress points'. Please take a moment to look at the stress values of these life events. You can sum the points for each event that happened to you during the last year (here or online at
Death of parent
Divorce of parents
Acquiring a visible deformity
Fathering a child
Jail sentence of parent for over one year
Marital separation of parents
Death of a brother or sister
Change in acceptance by peers
Unplanned pregnancy of sister
Discovery of being an adopted child
Marriage of parent to stepparent
Death of a close friend
Having a visible congenital deformity
Serious illness requiring hospitalization
Failure of a grade in school
Mother or father beginning work
Hospitalization of a parent
Jail sentence of parent for over 30 days
Breaking up with boyfriend or girlfriend
Beginning to date
Suspension from school
Becoming involved with drugs or alcohol
Birth of a brother or sister
Increase in arguments between parents
Loss of job by parent
Outstanding personal achievement
Change in parent's financial status
Accepted at college of choice
Being a senior in high school
Hospitalization of a sibling
Increased absence of parent from home
Brother or sister leaving home
Addition of third adult to family
Becoming a full fledged member of a church
Decrease in arguments between parents
Decrease in arguments with parents
Life Event Life Change Units
(for children and teenagers)
Score of 300 + suggests that you had a hard year and there can be a risk of an illness caused by stress. Keep in mind that this scale has been proved to be fairly accurate - but it's also a bit general, so you can have your own reaction to these stressors.
When you feel under pressure for too long, it can be unhealthy for you in many ways:
Inability to concentrate
Seeing only the negative
Anxious or racing thoughts
Irritability or short temper
Agitation, inability to relax
Sense of loneliness and isolation
Depression or general unhappiness
Aches and pains
Diarrhea or constipation
Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
Loss of sex drive
More serious chronic illness (like stomach ulcer, migraines, high blood pressure, etc
Eating more or less
Sleeping too much or too little
Isolating yourself from others
Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
Acting out aggressively
Coping strategies that don't work - or make things worse
Although we usually see stress as coming from 'outside', some people manage much better. Much depends on your character, thinking and motivation
Stress can also be self-generated by:
Inability to accept uncertainty
Lack of assertiveness
Unhealthy ways of making stress go away
Overeating or undereating
Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer
Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities
Using pills or drugs to relax
Sleeping too much
Playing video games for too long
Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems
Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)
Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.
Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.
Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever increasing demands of life. In looking at the causes of stress, remember that your brain comes hard-wired with an alarm system for your protection.
When your brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response.