Personal Blogs Blog Directory The Daily Brain Shelter: March 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010


Do any of you out there want to know a little more about stress? Of course. Who doesn't? Stress affects each and every one of us. In this posting, you'll get a chance to read a short paper that I recently submitted in Psych118. Give me some feedback. I want to know what you think.


What is stress? That is the million dollar question. According to “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Psychology” Fourth Edition (pg213), stress is defined as : a general term that includes all of the physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive responses we make to a disruptive internal or external event”. Like many other conditions, stress appears in many forms. Some of those forms are positive, and some are negative. Positive stress is formally known as eustress, and negative stress is known as distress. This paper will discuss the different forms of stress, the effect that it has on the mind and body, and a few short coping techniques.

Before diving in head first, it would be wise to get a little more information on the two major types of stress: eustress and distress. One of the best ways of gaining understanding is by observing or in this case, by taking a closer look at a few examples. Here are a few examples of eustress: Going on a great vacation to Hawaii, winning the lottery, having a great conversation with a friend or family member. A few examples of distress would be: Losing a loved one, being diagnosed with a terminal illness, trying to steal Rosie O’Donnell’s last cupcake.

As evidently depicted, stress is everywhere. It simply cannot be avoided. It is just another part of life. What matters most is how people react to it. People react differently to stress. Therefore, their coping mechanisms will vary from person to person as well. While stress may be the issue at hand, coping is the desired outcome. How much stress we internalize ultimately affects more than just our minds. Stress affects us as an entire being. It affects us mentally and physically, which is why having proper coping techniques lined up is really so important.

One can clearly see now that there is very little division between the mind and the body. When the mind is under stress, so is the body. The longer the mind is under stress, the more damage takes place. This usually results in a compromised state of immunity or a CNS dysfunction of some sort. In many cases, this leads to a condition known as a Somatoform Disorder. A Somatoform Disorder(as defined by The Idiot’s Guide to Psychology Fourth Edition) is a mental disorder in which the person experiences symptoms of physical illness, but has no medical disease that could cause it(symptoms/complaints are usually headaches, dizziness, nausea, and heart palpitations).

There is a large body of research known as the study of Psychoneuroimmunology, which is the study of interactions between the brain, the body, the emotions and the immune system. This body of research proves that not only do our thoughts and our minds have a negative impact upon our bodies, but that the reverse is also true. Positive thought can dramatically upregulate the way that the body functions as well. If that isn’t convincing enough, read this: “Research confirms that mental stress puts us at risk for physical illness; it increasingly shows that emotional distress shuts down someof the body’s defenses, making us more vulnerable to disease.”(pg225)

So maybe stress has not caused illness quite yet, or maybe it has. Either way proper coping techniques are essential to learn before its too late. Before running through a list of strategies to help ease the burden, it is first of dire importance to be able to identify the signs of stress. Here they are:
- Feeling on edge, frustrated or easily annoyed
-Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
-Finding even simple things burdensome or difficult
-Eating more or less than usual
-Experiencing mood swings
-Feeling distracted
-Being irritable or impatient

If a person has come to the conclusion that he or she has three or more of the signs listed above, it might be a good time for counseling or self education. This would be an ideal time to learn coping techniques. Just like anything else, there are positive coping strategies and negative ones. Here are a few examples of both. A few negative ways of coping would be: sulking, avoidance behavior, drugs, alcohol, and overeating. A few examples of positive coping strategies would be: talking, finding solutions, positive thinking and reinforcement, as well as general insight and understanding into the underlying causes of one’s stress. If all else fails: seek professional help.

While stress will never be eliminated, if managed correctly, one can master his or her own environment. The understanding of stress, its causes and effects, as well as proper coping techniques will allow an individual to lead a much happier and more productive life. This can all basically be summed up by one anonymous quote: “Life is 10% circumstance, and 90% how one chooses to handle it.”

Well, that's it for this time guys. Hopefully, some of you got some useful information out of this post, and can use it to help yourselves or someone that you know or love. Take care everyone!

See you next time!!!