Coping with Stress

Lesson 1 - Stress vs Distress

The stress response

As you answered the test you will have noticed that stress has
physical and emotional factors which are interrelated, and, of
course, physical and emotional responses.

Dr Hans Selye, who was one of the world’s leading authorities
on stress, said: ‘Stress is the non-specific response of the body
to any demand made upon it.’ By that he meant that two persons
may face the same stressor and yet have quite different reactions.

Take, for example, a child walking along a street with a parent.
They pass a gate behind which is a big dog jumping and barking.
The child is frightened and fearful as to what will happen. The
parent, on the other hand, has noticed that the dog is tied up,
and that the gate is too high for the dog to jump over, so is not
worried about the situation. Both have faced the same stressor
– the dog – but their reactions have been different. The parent
calms the child and all is well.

Getting into a rut

What is interesting is that although we each react in different
ways, as individuals we start to react in much the same way each
time we face stress.

Our physical and behavioural responses become predictable and
automatic. In the long term these can cause negative health
consequences.

How do you react to stress? Do you bite your nails when you are
excited or otherwise anxious? If you do have this or some similar
trait, you are showing that your mind is particularly focusing on
and responding to the stressor.