Your Stress-Defining Moment Assignment

Week 1 Discussion 1: Your Stress-Defining Moment

Your Stress-Defining Moment – Life stressors as common as work pressure or as obscure as being zapped with electricity while running in a maze, all activate the stress response. With such varying sources from which stressors emerge, stress is a holistic phenomenon with emotional, biological, cognitive, and coping aspects.

Research into the stress response touches a variety of scientific disciplines. Theorists from the fields of physiology, endocrinology, psychiatry, psychology, and sociology have made major contributions to understanding the biological response evoked by stress. Their theories that describe stress all tie together, building on each other’s constructs to better explain stressors, stress, and the stress response. The first paradigm by physiologist Walter Cannon and endocrinologist Hans Selye considered stress a stimulus. Stress happened to the individual. However, stressors can be internally generated with worry or fear. Revealing the impact of stress as detrimental to physical well-being, the Life Stressor Assessment developed by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe identifies stressful life events that may predict stress reactions. Also, recent work by sociologist Aaron Antonovsky and psychologist Richard Lazarus describes stress more as a process. In viewing the “Stress Response” handout, notice that there are continuous interactions between the person and the environment, influencing the impact of the stressor through cognitive, emotional, and behavioral pathways. Traditionally, stress has been viewed as an adaptive function with a set of physiological responses to a stressor. Present thinking supports a more holistic understanding. As a result, perspectives have changed to include cognitive, environmental, and social elements in a more holistic understanding of the stress response.

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For this Discussion on Your Stress-Defining Moment , review this week’s Learning Resources, including the “Defining the Stress Response Across Multiple Scientific Disciplines” handout. Then take the Holmes and Rahe stress assessment. Finally, consider any insights you had or conclusions you drew after completing the Holmes and Rahe self-evaluation.

DQ2-Discussion 2: To Flee or Not to Flee and Other Stress Response Techniques

Stressors are a normal part of life. From an evolutionary perspective, adaptation to changes in the environment is required for survival. In a situation where there is a perception of stress, organisms—whether they are people, dogs, rodents or flies—are physiologically prepared to attack or flee from a threat. Those with effective fight or flight responses tend to survive long enough to reproduce, so every organism is descended from those who are genetically hardwired for self protection. When you experience stress, your biology, emotions, social support, motivation, environment, attitude, immune function, and state of wellness all feel the ripple effect.

Imagine the fatal outcomes that might occur if the mind and body did not adapt to life’s stressors. For your cave-dwelling ancestors the result would be a very short life with little chance of passing on their genes to future generations.

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Recall the encounter with the saber-toothed tiger discussed in the introduction to this course. Once the brain determines a threat exists per the cognitive appraisal process, the fight or flight response begins. In stress mode, your body goes under a variety of changes including but not limited to:

  • Accelerated heart rate
  • The release of cortisol and other stress hormones
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased release of adrenaline

When the fight or flight response is initiated numerous times a day, it results in a depletion of energy, resources, and maintenance abilities. While life preserving, the biological and physical stress responses are meant to be short-term. In addition, long-term stress may have an impact on your immune system. This is another one of the many different ways health can deteriorate. There are multiple techniques and behavioral interventions that might be used as part of an overall stress management strategy to reduce stress.

For this Discussion, review this week’s Learning Resources, including “The Body’s Micro-Response to Stress” handout. Consider the stress response to ongoing everyday stressors as presented in the Learning Resources. Imagine what might be necessary to reduce the response for these non-life threatening, long-term experiences.