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Stress, Health, and Human Flourishing


Chapter 11 Stress, Health, and Human Flourishing PowerPoint Presentation by Jim Foley – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Stress, Health, and Human Flourishing

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

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

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

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.

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?
AppraisalChoosing How to View a Situation
  • Questions to ask yourself when facing a possible
  • 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)

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.
  • 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.

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

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.

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

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
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.
Effects of Prolonged 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

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

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.

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.

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
  • 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

Clogging of the coronary artery
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.

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

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

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.

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
  • address the stressors.
  • soothe emotions.
  • increase ones sense of control over stressors.
  • exchange optimism for pessimism.
  • get social support.

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
  • Risk magnifying emotional distress, especially
    if trying to change something thats difficult to
    change (e.g. another persons traits).

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.
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.

Excessive Pessimism vs. Excessive Optimism

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
Excessive pessimism can leave us depressed,
inactive. Excessive optimism can leave us
unprepared, unsafe.
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.
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.

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.

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