The concept of stress and methods of minimization of its impact on the human body | Статья в журнале «Молодой ученый»

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Рубрика: Психология

Опубликовано в Молодой учёный №32 (270) август 2019 г.

Дата публикации: 06.08.2019

Статья просмотрена: 130 раз

Библиографическое описание:

Калинина, Л. В. The concept of stress and methods of minimization of its impact on the human body / Л. В. Калинина. — Текст : непосредственный // Молодой ученый. — 2019. — № 32 (270). — С. 125-128. — URL: (дата обращения: 25.01.2022).

The realia of modern world are globalization and hypersonic speed of life. To live on a descent level having opportunities for self-development and success, a person has to adapt the environment. This reality constantly creates stressful situations.Every moment a person has to deal with a variety of problems, overcome obstacles and sometimes make difficult decisions. To survive and function normally in modern reality, a person needs to have skills to overcome stressful situations.

This work is an attempt to propose a scientific definition of stress and consider the nature of its occurrence, as well as try to find out whether it is possible to live without stress or minimize its impact on a human body.

Keywords: stress, distress, adaptation, organism response, psychological comfort, motivation, personality development.

Современный человек живет в эпоху глобализации и сверхзвуковых скоростей. Чтобы жить на достойном уровне, иметь возможности к развитию и преуспевать ему приходится подстраиваться под окружающую реальность. Данная реальность непрерывно создает стрессовые ситуации. Человеку каждую секунду приходится иметь дело с разнообразными проблемами, преодолевать трудности, принимать подчас трудные решения. Чтобы выжить и нормально функционировать в современной реальности, человеку необходимо обладать навыками преодоления стрессовых ситуаций.

В данной работе предлагаем дать научное определение стресса и рассмотреть природу его возникновения, а также попытаться выяснить, можно ли жить без стресса или максимально минимизировать его воздействие.

Ключевые слова: стресс, дистресс, адаптация, реакция организма, психологический комфорт, мотивация, личностное развитие.

At present, a person has to live in the world of globalization and hypersonic speeds. To live on a descent level and have opportunities for personal development and success, one must adapt the reality. This reality constantly creates stressful situations. Every moment a person has to cope with various problems, overcome obstacles and make occasionally difficult decisions. As a rule, problems do not come in turn, but several at once, and require immediate reaction. To survive and function normally in modern reality, a person has to obtain certain skills to overcome stressful situations.

In this paper, we propose a scientific definition of the term stress and consider the initial cause of its occurrence, as well as try to figure out whether it is possible to live without stress or minimize its impact on a human body.

The term stress was mentioned for the first time by a Canadian scientist Hans Selye to denote “... the state of nonspecific stress in a living organism, occurred in real morphological changes in various organs, and especially in the endocrine glands controlled by the pituitary gland”. [1, с.23]

Whatever changes in the body stress causes and regardless of its origin, it requires immediate reaction, that is adaptation of the organism to these changes. [2, с. 24] In other words, in addition to the specific effect, all the circumstances affecting us also cause a nonspecific demand of the organism to execute adaptive functions and thereby restore its normal state. “These functions are independent of specific effect. The nonspecific demands caused by the impact of stress are the essence of stress”. [1, с.23]

The organism can cope with the arising obstacles with the help of two basic types of reactions: active, or struggle, and passive, escape from problem, or readiness to tolerate it. “If a poison is introduced into the body, escape is impossible, but the reaction can still be of two types: either chemical destruction of the poison, or peaceful coexistence with it. Balance is established by removing the poison from the body, or the body learns to ignore the poison. ” [2, с. 13]

Nature has provided many ways to transmit the orders to the cells of an organism to eliminate poison or tolerate it in a chemical language. According to H. Selye, the rules successfully operating at the level of cells and organs can become a source of true philosophy of life, which will lead to the development of behavior based on scientific principles, rather than prejudices, traditions or blind submission to «Final authorities».

An important stage in the development of the theory of stress was the concept of Richard S. Lazarus. He emphasizes the specificity of psychological stress as opposed to its biological and physiological forms. In his book Psychological Stress and Coping Process R. Lazarus puts forward the idea of indirect determination of the reactions observed under stress. [8] In his opinion, intermediate variables of psychological nature are included between the impacting stimulus and the response. That is why analyzing psychological stress it is necessary to take into account not only externally observed stimuli and reactions, but some stress-related psychological processes as well.

In other words, the regulation of interaction between environment and personality is based upon «primary» and «secondary» cognitive assessments of the situation. The individual initially classifies it as changing or threatening, and then, depending on the degree of perceived threat, the properties of stress and his own psychological characteristics he determines how to overcome stress. According to Lazarus, as a result of the interaction of these two processes, certain forms of coping behavior are formed. The important factors in their formation and individualization are negative or positive emotional reactions in response to stress, as well as the transformation of this reaction into a certain strategy of overcoming.

At the present time, there are three groups of basic scientific approaches to stress conception.

The first approach defines stress as a response to a disturbing or harmful environment, resulting in psychologic stress, depressing emotional sufferings, protective response, misadaptation and pathology. The concept of H. Selye’s general adaptation syndrome is best known in this group.

The interpretation of stress in terms of its positive or negative impact on the dynamics of human performance is quite popular. In this case, the methods of stress research are focused on assessing the degree of mental tension, determining stress conditions that prevent or contribute to the maintenance of productive professional activity, the mental health of both individual employees and all the staff members.

The second approach to understanding stress interprets it as a characteristic of the environment in terms of disturbing or destructive stimuli (stress factors). Within this approach, psychognosis is focused on the identification of stress-factors of both the internal and the external environment of the organization. In this regard, stress research methods should be targeted on the identification of individual stress factors and their relationship, and the integral assessment of their stress effects. Further development of this approach was the study of stress at work not as individual stress factors of the environment, but as a complex set of them, which determines the typical stress situations. In this aspect, attempts to identify «universal» situations that are stressful for all or for most categories of people are future-oriented.

The third approach is a model of interaction between a person and the environment, considering stress as a response to the lack of «correspondence» between the resources of the individual and the requirements of the environment. In this case, stress is considered as a result of the factors preceding it and its consequences.

In accordance with this approach, psychognostic instrumenatum should be aimed at identifying stressful (professionally difficult, extraordinary, extreme) situations that impose increased or extraordinary requirements on a person, to identify features of perception (subjective representation or cognitive assessment) of these situations and to assess the productivity of overcoming behavior. The methods and scales of assessment designed for this purpose should be based on gender, age and social status.

As previously stated, psychological stress was identified by R. S. Lazarus as a reaction to the peculiarities of the interaction between the individual and the world, based on cognitive processes, way of thinking and assessment of the situation, awareness of their own resources. However, this division is also quite relative, as physiological stress always includes mental (emotional) elements, and mental stress causes physiological changes. In this regard, the position of V. L. Marishchuk, who believes that any stress is both physiological and mental (emotional), is more reliable. [3]

Nevertheless, R. Lazarus ' view of stress as a result of subjective assessment of harmful stimulus and coping as a way of overcoming behavior has been fundamental for many years in the course of stress studies. It should be emphasized, that Lazarus’s statement of coping as a stabilizing factor that can help the individual to maintain psychosocial adaptation during the period of exposure, was the starting point for an immense number of research.

According to V. A. Ababkov and M. Perre’s research, emotions are an integral component of stress. In their book Adaptation to stress [4], authors give different definitions of stress and distinguish types of stressors, consider the factors influencing the experience of stress and kinds of adaptation to stressful situations, observe the results of stress and coping and propose methods of stress overcoming and stress prevention.

In the 1990s, there was a period when alongside with the term «emotional stress» psychologists began to use the term «psychological stress», identifying the two concepts.

The classification of psychological stress proposed by V. A. Bodrov includes the following types of stress [5]:

− intrapersonal (unrealized aspirations, the needs, the futility of existence);

− interpersonal (difficulties in socializing, conflicts or threats of their occurrence);

− personal (non-compliance with social roles).

In general, any type of psychological stress includes:

− common factors (typical for all types of stress);

− specific factors (specific only for this type of stress);

− external or objective factors, or in other words objectively fixed conditions for the occurrence of stress (deadlines, large amount of load, etc.);

− subjective or personal factors, which are largely due to the individual characteristics of the person (inadequate self-esteem, motivational features, temperament, high level of personal tension, anxiety, aggressiveness, and others). [10]

The above examples of classifications reflect the existing trend in psychological science and practice to differentiate the concept of «psychological stress» into different types of classifications depending on the field of psychological knowledge. Attempts to combine the increasing number of stress reactions into a single classification have not yet been successful.

In his studies, Hans Selye identified patterns of diseases caused by stress, calling them General Adaptation Syndrom. In its development, stress goes through three stages.

The first stage is the stage of anxiety. The body uses all immunodefence resources, while activating all the functional systems and reserves of the psyche. From the point of view of physiology, stress is associated with increased activity of the adrenal glands, producing the hormone adrenaline, which enters the blood, causes rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, increased pressure and other consequences. At this stage, there is also an increase in immunological resistance. After the stage of an alarming reaction, the body needs to recover for at least 24–28 hours.

The second is adaptation (resistance). The human body actively counteracts stress and adapting to it is in a tense mobilized state. This stage of resistance (adaptation) can last for months or even years. Physiologically, the adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol, which stimulates the processing of proteins, fats and carbohydrates into energy for the body. If the stress lasts too long or exceeds the adaptive resources of the body, the stage of adaptation (resistance) can go to the third stage.

The third stage is the stage of exhaustion. At this stage, stress becomes pathological, because a person already lacks both mental and physical resources. At this stage, painful processes are developing that lead to real physical diseases of the body — hypertension, heart attack, stroke, obesity, gastritis, etc. Depressive reactions develop that requiring medical therapy and the help of a(psychotherapist or psychiatrist also develop at this stage.

The duration of the stages and the severity of various stress effects depend on the individual psychophysiological characteristics of a person.

At certain stages of its development, stress becomes dangerous for health and activity: sometimes at the very beginning, when the force of extreme impact clearly exceeds individual resources, and mainly at the stage of exhaustion, when, despite the long mobilization of internal resources, it is not possible to eliminate the influence of the stress factor, and resources run out.

Therefore, two forms of stress are distinguished. Productive, or eustress, allows not only to cope with the difficulty, but also to gain useful experience to overcome similar situations. Destructive, or distress, which destroys behavior and is the source of many diseases. To deal with it is not only futile, but harmful. One should try to prevent it or, if a person is already in a state of distress, it must be treated. [9]

The lack of stress is as bad as its excess. According to medical estimates, half to three-quarters of all diseases and accidents are associated with stress. Severe stress can have severe physiological consequences. In the body there is an automatic series of reactions, and the problem is that any of the reactions can be harmful if you allow it to last too long. All of the reactions are by nature short-termed, collapsing as soon as the danger has ceased to threaten. If the reactions do not stop, they begin to acquire a malicious effect.

Within certain limits, stress is psychologically favorable for a person (eustress). It helps to think and act faster, to feel useful and valuable. When stress overloads, it depletes psychological energy, disrupts our activities and often makes us feel like losers (distress).

To summarize the above, it is necessary to say the following. A person with a highly developed nervous system is extremely sensitive to mental injuries. But there are many methods that reduce their impact to a minimum. Here are some of the most useful ones.

According to G. Greenberg [6], L. Bourbeau [7], H. Selye and other researchers [10], whatever life situation you face, think first whether it is worth fighting. Constantly focus on the bright side of life and the actions that can improve your situation. Selectable abstraction is the best way to reduce stress.

It must be recognized that perfection is impossible. Each kind of achievement has its highest point: strive for it and be content with it.

Nothing hurts more than failure; nothing inspires more than success. Even after the strongest defeat, the best way to deal with thoughts of failure is to remember previous successes. This deliberate recalling is an effective method of restoring the self-confidence necessary for future success.

Do not postpone an unpleasant, but necessary to achieve the goal activity.

It is important to remember that people are not born equal, although they certainly should have equal opportunities. In a liberty-oriented society, social mobility depends on a person’s achievements.

The basic principles of coping with stress are:

− Distraction from a stressful situation. If the situation makes a strong impression on a person and he continues to think about it long after that, then he «gets stuck» on a stressful situation and thinks not about how to solve it, but constantly worries about the events that have occurred. To escape from the stressful situation, you need to think about something else related to pleasant sensations and experiences.

− Reducing the subjective significance of the event that caused stress, i.e. to reconsider the attitude to what happened on the principle: «What is not done is for the better»...

− Active behavior — do not keep the feelings and emotions that caused stress, but throw out the accumulated energy by doing some unusual thing (for example, to wash the window or floor with a toothbrush, wiping clean dishes, etc.) as well as sports, football, volleyball, etc.

− Ability to relax. Stress causes general tension and an increase in the frequency of brain waves. Relaxation, on the contrary, reduces their frequency, which leads to a decrease in the level of excitation of the Central nervous system.

− Positive thinking — a positive way of thinking and associated positive emotions of good, love, joy — is the main personal tool to ensure health and well-being.

Finally, do not forget that there is no recipe for success, suitable for everybody. People are different, and so are their problems. The only thing we have in common is submission to the biological laws that govern all living creatures, including humans. Therefore, a natural code based on non-specific adaptation mechanisms can be considered a general principle of behavior.


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  10. (дата обращения 26.07.2019)

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