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USC / exercise science / EXSC 191 / What is the nature of stress in psychology?

What is the nature of stress in psychology?

What is the nature of stress in psychology?


School: University of South Carolina
Department: exercise science
Course: Physical Activity and Health
Professor: Moore
Term: Fall 2018
Tags: stress, Physiology, and copingmechanisms
Cost: 25
Name: Exercise Science 191 Week 3 Notes
Description: Because of the weather, two of the week's classes were cancelled and these are the only notes from this week. They cover stress, the physiology of stressors, and different coping mechanisms we as future leaders in health and exercise can utilize with clients.
Uploaded: 09/16/2018
3 Pages 102 Views 2 Unlocks


What is the nature of stress in psychology?

● Three main stressors are money, work, and the economy, with added stress from the economy (again), terrorism, and gun violence

● Currently, millennials, followed by gen-x, baby boomers, and finally matures (older members of the population) are stressed from most to least

● Anticipated stress is mainly about money and job security for ourselves, our family, and our friends


● A physical and/or emotional response to a perceived threat even regardless of the presence of a threat

○ Eustress

■ Optimal amount of stress; motivates us to engage in activities that make our lives more meaningful

○ Hypo-stress

■ Diminished sense of arousal, leading to apathy, boredom → less than optimal health & wellness

What are 3 possible effects of stress?

○ Distress

■ Level of stress that compromises performance and well-being

Sources of Stress

● Environmental

○ Heat, altitude, noise, pollution, secondhand smoke, extreme weather ● Physiological

○ Exercise, infection or disease, tobacco, injury, caffeine

■ The focus in this class is on how exercise can be a form of eustress ● Psychosocial

○ Emotional turmoil, negative perceptions of the future, not getting enough sleep, wasting time, inconsiderate smokers?


● Severity

○ Major stressors → daily hassles

■ I.e. pulling out our phones to do a QR code vs. life altering situation with family

● Ambiguous stressors

What is an emotion based reaction to perceived threats?

○ Introduce uncertainty, lack of control, and clear-cut solutions don’t exist ■ For example, relationship stressors, any human to human interactions (we can only control ourselves and not the other person)

■ Program applications, gap-year If you want to learn more check out What are the different outcomes of engaging in entrepreneurship?
We also discuss several other topics like What is a dipole in chemistry called?

Unique College Student Challenges and Stressors

1. Troubling thoughts of the future → Take action If you want to learn more check out On what two factors do the intensity and duration of radiation depend?

2. Not getting enough sleep → TTM!

3. Wasting time → Self-monitoring

4. Inconsiderate smokers → ? (maybe better boundaries, communication…)

5. Physical appearance → Process over outcome (habits are better than the immediate results)

6. Too many things to do → Ask if it’s a priority, if not, cut your losses Reactions to Stress (physiologically)

● Look at slides for information on the notes page for more explanation of this slide ● SNS - sympathetic nervous system releases epinephrine and norepinephrine ● Restoration with the ANS, autonomic nervous system, should calm everything down quickly but is individualized and may take longer for each person

● HPA Axis - hypothalamic pituitary adrenal 

○ Dysfunction can result from… (see slide) 

○ Activation triggers the release of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH or CRF) from the hypothalamus, which activates the pituitary gland to release We also discuss several other topics like During which evolution of marketing stages was manufacturing the main focus?

adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) to wake up the adrenal cortex to release the stress hormone, cortisol 

● Phases of Response 

○ Alarm Reaction 

■ Physical or mental trauma triggers a set of reactions to combat stress ● Implicates the immune system to provide the energy needed to 

respond to the stressor 

○ Resistance 

■ Adaptation response by the immune system - provides enhanced 

resistance to illness and disease 

○ Exhaustion 

■ If we don’t adapt appropriately, we experience exhaustion where the body cannot maintain homeostasis and long-term immunoresistance 

● If Unable to Adapt 

○ Chronic stress 

■ High levels of adrenaline and cortisol 

■ Body is still mobilizing resources 

■ Immune system is compromised 

■ Increased susceptibility to sickness or disease 

○ Individuals exposed to high levels of stress 

■ More risk for negative outcomes but the response depends on 

● Appraisal of the event 

● Subsequent physiological response If you want to learn more check out What is "winner take all" market?

■ Appraisal - a person’s perception of a stressor (primary appraisal), and resources for managing the stress (secondary appraisal) 

■ Stress reactivity is the extent to which the sympathetic nervous system is activated by a stressor which influences emotional & behavioral reaction ● Personality Traits that promote resilience (we always forget these things during the heightened stress points in life) 

○ Optimism 

■ Positive outlook on life

○ Locus of control 

■ Extent to which we believe we can control the outcome of events ○ Internal 

■ Better health outcomes (exceptions with depressed individuals) → must be accompanied by the believf that one is capable of changing ○ External 

■ Passive change 

○ Self-efficacy 

■ Belief that taking action will help accomplish goals 

○ Conscientiousness 

■ Tendency to be organized, thoughtful and goal-oriented If you want to learn more check out What is the initial velocity of a falling object?

● Reduced engagement in risky behaviors 

● Adaptive responses to stressful experiences 

○ Bodacious 

■ Strongly committed to goals (persistence, grit, etc.)

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