UNDERSTANDING STRESS By Elliott Sewell
Opening Remarks Follow the slides below and see my PowerPoint presentation which will educated you about the nature or stress, includes its causes and how it affects you. I use a variety of techniques proven to work in stress reduction and will find approaches that will help you.
We are going to find out about what stress is, how it affects our bodies, how it works. Ask yourselves what is most stressful in your life.
FOUR KINDS OF STRESS • 1. There is the positive kind called EUSTRESS, which is short term stress and actually arises to strengthen us for immediate action, creativity and times when we need inspiration and motivation.
2. DISTRESS is negative and harmful and causes us to adapt to changing situations; there is the short-term variety of acute stress that passes quickly, and long-term chronic stress. 3. HYPERSTRESS is when we get so stressed out that we just overload because it is just too much for us to handle. 4. HYPOSTRESS means just not enough stress. We need a little bit in our lives, otherwise we feel bored and have nothing challenging us.
ONE RECENT STUDY This study compared causes of stress between adolescents and their parents.
TEENS STUDY • ACADEMIC 43% • FAMILY RELATIONSHIP18% • SOCIAL PRESSURE 10% • DRUGS, ALCOHOL 1% • SEX, DATING, RELATIONSHIPS 16% • RELATIONSHIP with TEACHERS 1% • OTHER 7% PARENTS STUDY • ACADEMIC 21% • FAMILY RELATIONSHIP 13% • SOCIAL PRESSURE 16% • DRUGS, ALCOHOL 3% • SEX, DATING, RELATIONSHIPS 29% • RELATIONSHIP with TEACHERS 7% • OTHER 7%
Can you name any of the causes of stress in your lives that perhaps weren’t on this list?OK. Here is my list:Some causes of stress, or stressors:
Teen pregnancy Death of a family member Parental Divorce, or Remarriage Involvement in drugs Getting drunk with alcohol Smoking tobacco Change in peer status Failing an entire year of school Abortion Failing a class Getting a job Starting to drive Getting injured in a sport Surgery Moving to a new city Not making the team Getting arrested or ticketed Temperature Extremes
Breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend Beginning to date Getting suspended from school Loss of a parent’s job or change in l income Beginning high school Death of a pet Taking finals Winning a competition or game Being accepted at a college of your choice Public recognition TV Appearance Birth of a sibling Vacation Holidays – Christmas, Easter, etc. Traveling long distances with family Large crowds Traffic
1. Which hormone, with increased levels in states of both acute and chronic stress, is known as the "stress hormone"? • a) estrogen b) cortisol c) thyroid hormone T3 d) testosterone • A. b) Cortisol is a hormone which is found in elevated levels in states of acute and chronic stress. Since cortisol levels rise rapidly in response to physical or emotional stresses, this hormone is called the "stress hormone".
2. True or false: "stressed-out" people are more likely to catch a cold than persons experiencing minimal stress. • a) true b) false • A. a) True. It's not just in your head that when your schedule is overloaded and your stress is maximum, you're more likely to get sick. Lots of scientific evidence shows that extreme stress can have a negative effect on our immune systems, making us more susceptible to all kinds of infections. Of course, our overall health condition - including nutrition status and practicing healthy behaviors - also has an influence upon our readiness to catch a cold or other infections.
3. The term insomnia most accurately refers to: • a) getting <4 hours of sleep per night b) getting <8 hours of sleep c) inadequate or poor-quality sleep d) taking more than 1 hour to fall asleep • A. c) Insomnia refers to the perception or complaint of poor-quality or inadequate sleep. Because sleep requirements and patterns vary greatly among normal individuals, no specific rules concerning length of sleep or time required to fall asleep can be applied in defining insomnia. Changes in sleep patterns or transient insomnia can be a sign of excessive stress.
4. Which of the following has been promoted as "nature's anti-stress drug"? • a) alcohol b) vitamin C c) vitamin D d) kava kava • A. d) Kava kava has been used in the ceremonial and cultural lives of South Pacific Islanders for thousands of years. Traditionally a strong tea, kava is commonly taken in capsule form. It produces a relaxed and mildly euphoric state, and it is often used to treat symptoms of anxiety, stress, and tension. Even though this is an over-the-counter nutritional supplement, I do not endorse the taking of this or any herbal supplement without the advice and consent of your parent, guardian or physician.
5. Which of the following medical conditions can be worsened by increased stress, at home or at work? • a) diabetes b) heart disease c) asthma d) all of the above • A. d) all of the above: Psychological stress can exacerbate many medical conditions. Stress is known to worsen existing heart disease, and high stress levels can also cause high blood sugar levels in diabetics. Recent studies also show that asthma attacks, in some cases, can be precipitated by stress.
6. Where is the "stress hormone" cortisol produced in the body? • a) adrenal glands b) pancreas c) brain d) in the nerves • A. a) The stress hormone cortisol is made in the cortex, or outer portion, of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are adjacent to the kidneys and produce a number of hormones important for body function. Secretion of cortisol is controlled by signals from the pituitary gland that stimulate the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.
7. Which of the following is known to decrease the amount of stress you experience? • a) a low cholesterol level b) a routine, boring job c) having close friendships d) elevated estrogen levels • A. c) Having close connections with friends, family, and strong social support systems can decrease the amount of stress you experience. Many research studies have shown that persons who report low levels of social support often have higher stress levels than those with strong social support .
8. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are: a) areas of the brain involved in mood regulation b) types of prescription sedative drugs c) hormones released during agitated states d) natural substances that cause relaxation • A. c) Epinephrine and norepinephrine, also known as adrenaline and noradrenaline, are released from the medulla (central portion) of the adrenal gland in threatening situations and lead to the so-called "flight or fight" reaction or "stress reaction." Results of this reaction include a faster heart rate and increased blood pressure.
9. Stress has NOT been shown to cause: a) elevated blood cholesterol levels b) schizophrenia c) increased predisposition to heart attacks d) delayed wound healing • A. b) Stress is known to predispose individuals to certain diseases such as heart disease.In fact, stress may worsen many medical conditions and can lead to poor immune responses and delayed tissue repair (wound healing). Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder in which patients have an altered sense of reality and are not able to reason appropriately. Stress is not known to be a cause of schizophrenia.
10. The term "hypertension" refers to: • a) elevated blood pressure b) tightness in the muscles c) nervousness and irritability d) both b and c are correct • A. a) Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. Stress is known to be a contributing factor in high blood pressure
The Lifestyle Stress Quiz • This eight-question quiz is designed to help you evaluate your risk for severe stress and its associated physical and emotional symptoms. Each question will ask you to choose an answer from four possible choices; your answers will tell you if the particular habit or behavior is "high risk," "average risk", or "low risk" for burnout and serious stress.
1. Which pattern most accurately describes your interactions with friends? 1a) I have lots of casual acquaintances and contacts but very few close friends. a) HIGH RISK! People with a large support network, including close friends and family members, have fewer stress symptoms and can manage stress better. Lack of intimate friendships is also a risk factor for stress even if you have a wide circle of acquaintances and colleagues. Persons without close friendships also tend to experience more physical symptoms than those with larger social networks.
1b) I have a few good friends and lots of acquaintances; I just don't have time to see my friends as often as I'd like . • b) AVERAGE RISK: • Having close friendships is a positive factor and lowers your risk of severe stress. However, if you don't have time to spend with them, it can't be a very effective buffer against severe stress symptoms.
1c) I have good friends whom I see or communicate with on a regular basis, usually more than once/week. • c) LOW RISK: • Regular contact with persons close to you provides you with emotional support through any stressful situation. Research has even shown that persons who have close friendships have fewer stress symptoms than those without them.
1d) I live in a different city than most of my really good friends; although we're in contact, we don't meet very often. • d) AVERAGE RISK: • Having close friendships is a positive factor and decreases your risk of severe stress; however, being far away from your support system might not have all the stress-fighting power of a tight social network nearby.
2. In how many hobbies and outside-of-work interests do you actively participate? 2a) One or two hobbies, clubs, sports, etc. that I enjoy at least once a week • a) LOW RISK: • Spending time with an outside interest on a regular basis is a healthy habit, especially if you are over-engrossed with work. Sports are ideal because of the added stress-reduction and health benefits of physical workout
2b) At least three times per week I'm involved in some activity; my private time is packed full of commitments • b) AVERAGE TO HIGH RISK: • Having hobbies and outside interests is a good way to keep active and emotionally fit, but you can overdo it too and can become physically or emotionally burned out. You must learn your limits.
2c) I have lots of old hobbies or interests I'd like to revive, but don't seem to find the time or energy. • c) HIGH RISK: • Despite good intentions, having no time or energy to pursue outside interests may mean emotional burnout. Examine your diet or sedentary lifestyle if that is the problem, and try to make appropriate changes.
2d) None- there's no time! • d) HIGH RISK: • Having "no time" can be a sign of seriously rising levels of stress or of poor stress management techniques. Try to rework your schedule and eliminate what isn’t necessary so that you can have some relaxation time.
3. Have any major losses (e.g.- death of a loved one, divorce or breakup, loss of a job or home) occurred in your life over the past year? 3a) No a) LOW RISK: • Since significant losses are associated with an increased risk for stress and its associated medical problems, it is good in that sense not to have suffered loss. • 3b) Yes, 1-2. b) HIGH RISK: • . Most stress assessment systems rate potential for stress based on the number of significant life changes and losses over the past year.
3c) Yes, 3 or more. c) VERY HIGH RISK: • This is an unusually high number of things to deal with in the recent past. • 3d) None this past year, but some in the year before that. d) HIGH RISK: • Time heals, but not always within a year. Grief can ameliorate but still endure
4. Which pattern best describes your feeling at the end of the day? • 4a) Tired, but feel I've done a lot. I'm thinking ahead to tomorrow's plans • a) AVERAGE RISK: • Being tired at the end of the day can be a sign of productivity and planning ahead to the next day can also be a sign of enthusiasm. Its fine as long as you don’t become obsessive and drain all of your energy. • 4b) Exhausted, but I'm unable to unwind. • b) HIGH RISK: • If you're so tired that you can't relax you're likely to be under a significant amount of stress.
4c) Discouraged. I don't want to face tomorrow. • c) VERY HIGH RISK: • This can be dangerous. If you feel that you can’t go on in your present situation it might signify that you are at risk for serious depression and its consequences. Seeing a counselor or therapist might help to get you through this situation. • 4d) Sleepy or tired, looking forward to a quiet evening. • d) LOW RISK: • Being able to unwind and enjoy your evening without focusing too strongly on the day's stressful events or the upcoming day's tasks is a great stress management tool.
5. How would you best describe your health? • 5a) Excellent - no serious problems. • a) LOW RISK: • Being healthy and fit is an excellent way to combat excess stress. • 5b) Pretty good, but I don't always eat right or exercise. • b) AVERAGE RISK: • Learning to eat healthier foods and getting away from a sedentary lifestyle are both helpful in keeping stress to a minimum
5c) I'm run down- no major diseases, but I feel unwell a lot and suffer from frequent colds or headaches.. • c) HIGH RISK: • Feeling constantly tired or "run down", frequent headaches and infections can be a sign of illness or of poorly-managed stress and this can have significant health consequences. Studies show that stressed persons are more susceptible to colds and other infections than those who suffer less stress.
5d) I suffer from one or more chronic and/or painful illnesses. • d) HIGH RISK • Just the fact of having chronic diseases and conditions can be a significant source of stress; in addition they make it more difficult to manage other stresses.
6. How do you feel about your job? • 6a) Generally OK - I'd like to work a bit less and/or reduce workplace stress. • a) AVERAGE RISK • A positive work environment decreases your risk for stresses and the medical complications often related to them. No jobs are stress-free; we just have to be able to strike a balance. • 6b) I hate it - but I need the money. • b) HIGH RISK: • Studies show that a stressful job can more than double your risk of having a heart attack, and other medical complications can also arise. Maybe a change is what you need.
6c) I like it a lot - although I work hard, I feel productive and useful. • c) LOW RISK: • Since we spend so much time on the job, having a positive work environment decreases your risk for stress and its complications. • 6d) Neutral - but I look forward to the end of each work day. • d) AVERAGE RISK: • There is no stated problem here,
7. If you suddenly were given three extra hours today to spend as you choose, what would you most likely do?7a) Catch up on the "in" pile at work. • a) HIGH RISK: • If you enjoy your work and find the extra time spent rewarding, then you're not necessarily in the "high risk" group for job stress. But if you feel obligated to spend your free time working when you'd rather not, then you may be in danger for high stress and its consequences. • 7b) Play a sport - or take a walk or run. • b) LOW RISK: • This is stress-lowering activity.
7c) Sleep. • c) HIGH RISK: • Feeling chronically deprived of sleep is a sign of hyper stress. You should try to find out what is causing your tiredness or is increasing your stress. A regular sleep/wake cycle is an ideal way to manage stress. • 7d) Read, watch a movie, or catch up on my outside interests. • d) LOW RISK: • Having outside hobbies and interests are a balancing force; they add enjoyment, and distract from possible day-to-day stresses.
8. If you feel overwhelmed by stress, what are you most likely to do?8a) Call a friend or family member and talk things over. • a) LOW RISK: • Having close ties to family or friends is one of the best defenses against burnout and stress. • 8b) Try to forget it - this too shall pass. • b) AVERAGE TO HIGH RISK: • Denying stress or trying to ignore it can lead to burnout. Using your social support network is sometimes the best thing to do. It is true, however, that some people can successfully distract themselves from stress by involving themselves in something enjoyable.
8c) Drink too much, start smoking again, or take a tranquilizer. • c) HIGH RISK:Substance abuse is a dangerous habit and puts you at further risk for health problems and emotional burnout. Once again, try to get the help of a good friend or family member to discuss your situation. • 8d) Go online to chat, post in forums, or read things that might help. • d) LOW TO AVERAGE RISK: • An online support community can be like an extended support or family group, and can also provide needed strength and support, although you may not feel as close to this group than with persons you meet regularly. There are good resources and support groups online, however.
From these results, I’m sure we all see that we all have areas of stress in our lives because of the nature of our lifestyles. Does anyone have anything to say about what you have learned so far including the level of stress in your life? In this last section we will take another little quiz about stress reduction or relaxation and then discuss various methods of easing the stress in our lives. No handouts. Lets do these together.
RELAXATION QUIZ • Test your knowledge of relaxation programs and their effects on the body. • The following eleven questions will test your knowledge of the effects and practice of relaxation therapies. There is probably some new material for everyone. • Lets do this one together without any handouts.
1. Regular practice of meditation has been shown by researchers to have which of the following effects on the body? • a) A decrease in blood pressure • b) Improved emotional well-being • c) A decreased need for sleep • d) Both a and b • A. d) both a and b: Meditative therapies have been shown to have many beneficial health effects including lowering blood pressure and pulse and increasing emotional stability. Meditation is a form of relaxation, but doesn’t reduce the need for sleep at night.
SOME OF THE MEDITATIVE FORMS: • Deep Breathing • Listening • Deep Centering • Connecting to Nature • Mantras • Transcendental Meditation