|The Human Stress Response|
The human stress response can be described as a three part process:
This occurs when an organism recognizes a threat. It is during this time that the fight or flight response is activated. The autonomic nervous system, which controls blood vessels, smooth muscle, and glands, prepares the body for an energy expenditure.
Stage of Resistance
This stage is a result of prolonged stress. The physiological responses that are seen during the alarm reaction stabilize, although physiological arousal is still higher than normal. Also, the physiological arousal can decrease more as the organism becomes accustomed to the threat.
Stage of Exhaustion
After exposure to stress for an extended period of time, exhaustion will occur. This happens when the body's resources for coping with stress are depleted. The organism may collapse and become unable to continue resisting the stress.
The response to stress also has an emotional component. The person may feel annoyance, fear, or dejection, depending on the type of stress experienced. Surprisingly, some have reported experiencing pleasurable emotions even while enduring very high levels of stress.
Optimal Arousal Level for a Task
Sometimes emotion can interfere with efforts to cope with stress. As a general rule, the optimal level of arousal decreases with the complexity of the task. For instance, you would not enjoy conversation while working on a difficult homework assignment, but you probably would not mind if you were brushing your hair. This theory, called "The Inverted U" hypothesis, is not exclusive and is up to interpretation.
We tend to make efforts to reduce the demands created by stress. Some tactics are healthy and effective, while others are self-destructive in nature.
Negative Behavioral Responses
Positive Behavioral Responses
This site was last updated 03/08/04