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Stress, Health, and Human Flourishing

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Title: Stress, Health, and Human Flourishing


1
Chapter 11
  • Stress, Health, and Human Flourishing
  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • by Jim Foley

2
Stress and Health
  • Topics that hopefully wont become stressors
  • Stress a Process of perceiving and responding
    to stressors
  • Stressors
  • Catastrophes,
  • Life Changes,
  • Daily Hassles
  • The stress response system General Adaptation
    Syndrome
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Stress and Illness
  • Stress and AIDS, cancer, Heart Disease
  • Personality Factors and stress Type A,
    pessimism
  • The role of hormones and inflammation

3
Health Psychology
  • the phases of stress response and adaptation
  • how stress and health are affected by
  • appraisal of stressors
  • severity of stressors
  • personality types
  • perceived control
  • emotion or problem focus
  • optimism
  • social support
  • exercise
  • relaxation
  • religious faith and participation
  • Emotions, as well as personality, attitudes,
    behaviors, and responses to stress, can have an
    impact on our overall health.
  • Health psychology studies these impacts, as part
    of the broader field of behavioral medicine.
  • Topics of study in health psychology include

4
Stress A Focus of Health Psychology
  • Many people report being affected by stress.
  • Some terms psychologists use to talk about
    stress

Stress refers to the process of appraising and
responding to events which we consider
threatening or challenging.
  • a stressor is an event or condition which we view
    as threatening, challenging, or overwhelming.
  • Examples include poverty, an explosion, a
    psychology test, feeling cold, being in a plane,
    and loud noises.
  • appraisal refers to deciding whether to view
    something as a stressor.
  • stress reaction refers to any emotional and
    physical responses to the stressor such as rapid
    heartbeat, elevated cortisol levels, and crying.

5
Clarifying the Components of Stress
  • Stress isnt something that happens to you its
    a process in which you participate.
  • The process includes the stressor (event or
    condition), cognitive appraisal, body response,
    and coping strategies.
  • The advantage of breaking stress into these
    components is that we can see options for
    altering each of these different factors.

What could this person do to reduce his level of
suffering from stress?
6
AppraisalChoosing How to View a Situation
  • Questions to ask yourself when facing a possible
    stressor
  • Is this a challenge, and will I tackle it?
  • Is it overwhelming, and will I give up?
  • There are few conditions that are inherently and
    universally stressful we can often choose our
    appraisal and our responses.
  • extreme, chronic physical threats or challenges
    (such as noise or starvation)

7
Beneficial and Harmful Stress Effects
  • A brief experience of stress can be beneficial
  • improving immune system response
  • motivating action
  • focusing priorities
  • feeling engaged, energized, and satisfied
  • providing challenges that encourage growth,
    knowledge, and self-esteem
  • Extreme or prolonged stress, causes problems
  • mental and physical coping systems become
    overwhelmed and defeated rather than strengthened
  • immune functioning and other health factors
    decline because of damage

The key factor is whether there is a chance for
recovery and healing.
8
Stressors
  • Stressors refer to the events and conditions that
    trigger our stress response, because they are
    perceived/ appraised as overwhelmingly
    challenging, threatening, and/or harmful.
  • There may be a spectrum of levels of intensity
    and persistence of stressors.
  • We can also see stressors as falling into one of
    four categories
  • catastrophes.
  • significant life changes.
  • chronic daily hassles.
  • low social status/power.

the text focuses on the first three.
9
Catastrophic Events/Conditions
  • Short-term effects include increased heart
    attacks on the day of the event.
  • Long term effects include depression, nightmares,
    anxiety, and flashbacks.
  • Bonding both the trauma and the recovery are
    shared with others.
  • Appraisal is not essential in a catastrophic
    event. Most people agree that the event is
    harmful and overwhelming.
  • Examples include earthquakes, floods, hurricanes,
    war/combat, and wildfires.
  • It can be one single event or chronic harmful
    conditions.

10
Major Life Events/Changes
  • Even supposedly happy life changes, such as
    marriage, starting college or a new job, or the
    birth or adoption of a child, can bring increased
    challenge and stress.
  • Change is often challenging.
  • New roles, new priorities, and new tasks can put
    a strain on our coping resources.
  • The challenge, and the negative impact on health,
    increases when
  • the changes are painful, such as a death in
    family, loss of job, or heart attack.
  • the changes are in a cluster, and there are too
    many at once.

11
Chronic Daily Difficulties
  • Daily difficulties can be caused by facing too
    many tasks, too little time, and too little
    control.
  • Daily difficulties can be caused by the lack of
    social power and freedom
  • being bullied
  • living in poverty
  • living under oppressive political conditions

12
The Bodys Stress Response System
  • When encountering a sudden trauma or other
    stressor, our body acts to increase our
    resistance to threat and harm.

Phase 1 The fight or flight sympathetic
nervous system responds, reducing pain and
increasing the heart rate. The core of the
adrenal glands produces norepinephrine and
epinephrine (adrenaline). This system, identified
by Walter Cannon (1871-1945), gives us energy to
act.
Phase 2 The brain sends signals to the outer
part of the adrenal glands to produce cortisol
and other stress hormones. These focus us on
planning adaptive coping strategies and resisting
defeat by the stressor. Hans Selye (1907-1982)
indentified this extended resistance phase of
the stress response, followed by
Phase 3 Exhaustion.
13
General Adaptation Syndrome GAS(Identified by
Hans Selye)Our stress response system defends,
then fatigues.
14
Effects of Prolonged Stress
  • The General Adaptation Syndrome GAS works well
    for single exposures to stress.
  • Repeated and prolonged stress, with too much
    Phase 3 time, leads to various signs of physical
    deterioration and premature aging
  • the production of new neurons declines
  • neural circuits in the brain break down
  • DNA telomeres (chromosome tips) shorten, ? cells
    lose ability to divide, ? cells die, ? tissue
    stops regenerating, ? early aging and death

15
Female and Male Stress Response
  • In response to a stressor such as the death of a
    loved one, women may tend and befriend nurture
    themselves and others, and bond together.
  • The bonding hormone oxytocin may play a role in
    this bonding.
  • Women show behavioral and neurological signs of
    becoming more empathetic under stress.
  • Men under stress are more likely to socially
    withdraw and numb themselves with alcohol.
  • Men are also more likely to become aggressive
    under stress.
  • In either case, mens behavior and brains show
    LESS empathy and less tuning in to others under
    stress.

16
Studying the Stress-Illness Relationship
  • How does stress increase our risk of disease?
  • This is the subject of a new field of study
    psychoneuroimmunology, the study of how
    interacting psychological, neural, and endocrine
    processes affect health.
  • Psychologists no longer use the term
    psychosomatic because it has come to mean an
    imagined illness.
  • We now refer to psychophysiological illness, a
    real illness caused in part by psychological
    factors such as the experience of stress.

17
  • How the immune system works, before stress plays
    a role

18
Stress Increases The Risk of Illness
  • Here we see psycho-neuroimmunology in action
  • psychological factors, such as appraisal,
    thoughts, and feelings.
  • neurological factors, such as brain signals
    engaging the stress response system.
  • immunology, such as stress hormone exposure which
    suppresses the immune system.

19
Psychoneuroimmunology ExampleThe Impact of
Stress on Catching a Cold
  • In a group exposed to germs, those experiencing
    stress were more likely to catch a cold.

This tradeoff between stress response and immune
response may help our bodies focus energy on
managing stress.
20
Stress, AIDS, and Cancer
AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
Cancer the stress link is not as clear
  • Because the stress response suppresses the immune
    response, exposure to stress obviously worsens
    the development of AIDS in those exposed to HIV.
  • Reducing stress slows the progression of AIDS.
  • Stress may weaken the bodys defenses against the
    replication and spread of malignant cells.

This does NOT mean that stress causes cancer or
AIDS.
21
Stress and Heart Disease
  • Many factors contribute to heart disease.
  • Biological genetic predisposition to high blood
    pressure and high cholesterol
  • Behavioral smoking, inactivity, and high-fat
    diet
  • Psychological chronic stress, and personality
    styles that worsen the experience of stress
  • In coronary heart/artery disease, the blood
    vessels that provide oxygen and nutrients to the
    heart muscle itself become clogged, narrowed, and
    closed.

Clogging of the coronary artery
22
Type A Personality?Stress?Heart Disease
  • People with a type A personality are impatient,
    verbally aggressive, and always pushing
    themselves and others to achieve.
  • People with a type B personality are more relaxed
    and go with the flow.
  • In one study, heart attacks ONLY struck people
    with Type A traits.
  • Accomplishing goals is healthy, but a compulsion
    to always be working, with little time spent
    smelling the flowers, is not.
  • Also a problem ANGER.
  • To reduce anger-related stress defuse anger with
    exercise, talking, forgiveness, NOT letting it
    out (catharsis) by screaming, punching.

23
Pessimism and Heart Disease
  • It can be helpful to realistically anticipate
    negative events that may happen, and to plan how
    to prevent or cope with them.

Pessimism refers to the assumption that negative
outcomes will happen, and often facing them by
complaining and/or giving up.
  • Men who are generally pessimistic are more likely
    to develop heart disease within ten years than
    optimists.

24
Depression and Heart Disease
  • Why does depression appear so often with heart
    disease? Does one cause the other?
  • One possible answer is that the two problems are
    both caused by chronic stress.
  • There may be an intervening variable excessive
    inflammation.

25
Health Consequences of Chronic Stress The
Repeated Release of Stress Hormones
  • The stress hormone cortisol helps our bodies
    respond to brief stress.
  • Chronically high cortisol levels damage the body.

26
Coping with Stress and Promoting Health
  • How to go from coping to thriving
  • Problem-focused and emotion-focused coping
  • Perceived control and learned helplessness
  • Benefits of Optimism, Social support
  • Reducing stress effects with Aerobic Exercise
  • The power of Faith communities
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine

27
Promoting Health
  • Ways that help some people to reduce levels of
    stress, and to improve health
  • aerobic exercise
  • relaxation and meditation
  • participation in communities of faith
  • alternative medicine
  • Some ways to reduce the health effects of stress
    include
  • address the stressors.
  • soothe emotions.
  • increase ones sense of control over stressors.
  • exchange optimism for pessimism.
  • get social support.

28
Coping with Stress
Emotion-focused coping means reducing the
emotional impact of stress by getting support,
comfort, and perspective from others.
Problem-focused coping means reducing the
stressors, such as by working out a conflict, or
tackling a difficult project.
  • Risk ignoring the problem.
  • We might focus on this style of coping when we
    perceive the stressor as something we cannot
    change.
  • Risk magnifying emotional distress, especially
    if trying to change something thats difficult to
    change (e.g. another persons traits).

29
Learned Helplessness vs. Personal Control
Normally, most creatures try to escape or end a
painful situation. But experience can make us
lose hope.
  • Experiment by Martin Seligman Give a dog no
    chance of escape from repeated shocks.
  • Result It will give up on trying to escape pain,
    even when it later has the option to do so.
  • Learned Helplessness Declining to help oneself
    after repeated attempts to do so have failed.

Personal Control When people are given some
choices (not too many), they thrive.
30
Stress factor Perceived Level of Control
  • Experiment the left and middle rats below
    received shocks. The rat on the left was able to
    turn off the shocks for both rats. Which rat had
    the worst stress and health problems?
  • Only the middle, subordinate rat had increased
    ulcers.
  • It is not the level of shock, but the level of
    control over the shock, which created stress.

31
External vs. Internal Locus of Control
Locus of control Our perception of where the
seat of power over our lives is located.
  • External locus of control we picture that a
    force outside of ourselves controls our fate.

Internal locus of control we feel that we are in
charge of ourselves and our circumstances.
Too much external locus of control We lose
initiative, lose motivation to achieve, have more
anxiety about what might happen to us, dont
bother developing willpower.
  • Too much internal locus of control We blame
    ourselves for bad events, or have the illusion
    that we have the power to prevent bad events.

32
Self-Control Resource, Skill, Trait
  • The ability to control impulses and delay
    gratification, sometimes called willpower
  • This is a finite resource, an expenditure of
    brain energy, which is replenished but can be
    depleted short-term People asked to resist
    eating cookies later gave up sooner on a tedious
    task
  • With practice, we can improve our self-control
  • There seem to be individual differences in this
    trait in childhood
  • The Marshmallow study Kids who resisted the
    temptation to eat marshmallows later had more
    success in school and socially

33
Optimism vs. Pessimism
  • We can be optimistic or pessimistic in various
    ways
  • Prediction We can expect the best or the worst.
    At the extremes, we can get ourselves
    overconfident or simply depressed or anxious
    about the future.
  • Focus of attention We can focus on what we have
    (half full) or what we dont have (empty).
  • Attribution of intent We can assume that people
    meant to hurt us or that they were having a bad
    day.
  • Valuation We can assume that we or others are
    useless, or that we are lovable, valuable.
  • Potential for change We can assume that bad
    things cant be changed, or have hope.

34
Excessive Pessimism vs. Excessive Optimism



Realism
It will be easy, I wont think about it.
I cant do it, might as well forget it.
It might be hard Id better plan.
Im trapped, cant get out of this
I want to make changes or get out.
Someone will rescue me.
Im sure he just wants whats best for me, Ill
trust him.
That person hates me, he is against me.
I should ask what he feels about me, what he
wants.
Excessive pessimism can leave us depressed,
inactive. Excessive optimism can leave us
unprepared, unsafe.
35
Promoting Health Social Support
  • Having close relationships is associated with
    improved health, immune functioning, and
    longevity.
  • Social support, including from pets, provides a
    calming effect that reduces blood pressure and
    stress hormones.
  • Confiding in others helps manage painful
    feelings.
  • Laughter helps too.

36
Aerobic Exercise and Health
  • Aerobic exercise triggers certain genes to
    produce proteins which guard against more than 20
    chronic diseases and conditions.
  • Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of heart
    disease, cognitive decline and dementia, and
    early death.

Aerobic exercise refers to sustained activity
that raises heart rate and oxygen consumption.
37
Aerobic Exercise and Mental Health
  • Aerobic exercise reduces depression and anxiety,
    and improves management of stress. How do we
    know?
  • Aerobic exercise is correlated with high
    confidence, vitality, and energy, and good mood.
  • Is there causation? Perhaps depression simply
    reduces exercise.
  • One study establishing causation mildly
    depressed young women randomly assigned to an
    exercise group showed reduced depression caused
    by exercise alone.

38
Lifestyle Modification
  • In one study, a control group was given diet,
    medication, and exercise advice.
  • An experimental group practiced lifestyle
    modification, a plan to slow down the pace of
    ones life, accept imperfection, and renew faith.
  • Result modifying lifestyle led to reduced heart
    attack rates.

39
Relaxation and Meditation
  • Use of relaxation techniques can reduce
    headaches, high blood pressure, anxiety, and
    insomnia, and improve immune functioning.
  • People who meditate can learn to create a
    relaxation response relaxed muscles, lower blood
    pressure, and slowed heart rate and breathing.
  • Meditation also increases brain activity
    associated with positive emotions.
  • Steps to get the relaxation response focus
    attention on breathing, a focus word, and
    relaxing muscles from toes upward.

40
Faith Communities and Health
  • While attendance at religious services may not
    directly save lives, it may make other healthy
    practices more likely.
  • Religious attendance seems to have results,
    especially for men, comparable to the benefit of
    physically healthy lifestyle choices.

41
Faith Communities and Health Intervening Factors
  • The health impact of religious involvement may be
    indirect.
  • Health may improve because of the lifestyle and
    emotional factors associated with religious
    involvement, and not just the faith.

42
Closer Look at a Particular Emotion Happiness
  • Happiness is
  • a mood.
  • an attitude.
  • a social phenomenon.
  • a cognitive filter.
  • a way to stay hopeful, motivated, and connected
    to others.
  • The feel-good, do-good phenomenon when in a good
    mood, we do more for others. The reverse is also
    true doing good feels good.

43
A More Positive Psychology
  • Martin Seligman, who earlier kept dogs from
    escaping his shocks until they developed learned
    helplessness.
  • Developed Positive Psychology, the scientific
    study of optimal human functioning, finding ways
    to help people thrive.
  • Focus building strengths, virtue, emotional
    well-being, resilience, optimism, sense of
    meaning.
  • Three pillars of Positive Psychology
  • Emotions, e.g. engagement
  • Character, e.g. courage
  • Groups, Culture, Institutions

44
Happiness has its ups and downs.
Over the Course of a Week
  • Levels of happiness, as well as other emotions,
    can vary over the course of a week (we like the
    weekend), and even over the course of a day
    (dont stay awake too long!).

Over the Course of a Day
45
Wealth and Well-BeingA Change in Goals
  • In the late 1960s, students entering college had
    a primary goal of developing a meaningful life
    philosophy.
  • Since 1977, being very well-off financially has
    become more of a primary goal for first year
    students.

46
Can Money Buy Happiness?
  • Money seems to buy happiness when it lifts people
    out of extreme poverty. Otherwise, money doesnt
    seem to help our mood much.
  • The average level of income (adjusted for
    inflation) and purchasing power has increased in
    the United States.
  • The percentage of people feeling very happy,
    though, has not followed the same trend of
    improvement.

47
Adaptation-Level Phenomenon
  • When we step into the sunshine, it seems very
    bright at first. Then our senses adapt and we
    develop a new normal. If a cloud covers the
    sun, it may seem dark in comparison.
  • The very bright sensation is temporary.
  • The adaptation-level phenomenon when our wealth
    or other life conditions improve, we are happier
    compared to our past condition.
  • However, then we adapt, form a new normal
    level, and most people must get another boost to
    feel the same satisfaction.

48
Adapting Attitudes Instead of Circumstances
  • Because of the adaptation-level phenomenon, our
    level of contentment does not permanently stay
    higher when we gain income and wealth we keep
    adjusting our expectations.
  • It is also true that misfortune, disability, and
    loss do not result in a permanent decrease in
    happiness.
  • In both cases, humans tend to adapt.

49
Relative Deprivation
  • If the average income has risen by 10 percent in
    your area, it might be hard to feel great about a
    5 percent rise in your income because of
  • People who were satisfied with their own lives
    might become less satisfied if other people get
    more power, recognition, and income.
  • We can affect our happiness by choosing the
    people to whom we compare ourselves.
  • However, the tendency is to compare ourselves to
    people who are more successful.

Relative deprivation feeling worse off by
comparing yourself to people who are doing better.
50
Correlates of Happiness
There are behaviors that seem to go with
happiness. Whether they are the cause or the
effect of happiness is not clear, but it cant
hurt to try them.
Researchers have found that happy people tend to Happiness seems not much related to other factors
Have high self-esteem (in individualistic countries) Be optimistic, outgoing, and agreeable Have close friendships or a satisfying marriage Have work and leisure that engage their skills Have an active religious faith Sleep well and exercise Age (example the woman at the laptop in the picture) Gender (women are more often depressed, but also more often joyful) Parenthood (having children or not) Physical attractiveness
There also may be a genetic basis for a
predisposition to happiness. Whether because of
genes, culture, or personal history, we each seem
to develop a mood set point, a level of
happiness to which we keep returning.
51
Possible Ways to Increase Your Chances at
Happiness
  • Look beyond wealth for satisfaction.
  • Bring your habits in line with your goals take
    control of your time.
  • Smile and act happy.
  • Find work and leisure that engages your skills.
  • Exercise, or just move!
  • Focus on the needs and wishes of others.
  • Work, rest, and SLEEP.
  • Notice what goes well, and express gratitude.
  • Nurture spirituality, meaning, and community.
  • Make your close relationships a priority.
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