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5.1: Introduction to Stress, Health and the Self

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    5.1: Stress, Health, and the Self

    Learning Objectives
    • Be able to list two internal causes of subjective well-being and two external causes of subjective well-being. Describe how happiness is typically measured.
    • Explain theoretical models of health, as well as the role of psychological stress in the development of disease.
    • Describe psychological factors that contribute to resilience and improved health.

    In this chapter, we examine the profound connections between stress, health, and the self, emphasizing how these elements interplay to influence our overall well-being.

    5-1 stressed .png

    "Stressed" by kingfishpies is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

    Stress: Stress is a natural response to perceived threats or challenges and can significantly impact our mental and physical health. We discussed various types of stress, including acute, episodic, and chronic stress, each with distinct characteristics and effects on the body and mind. Key theories of stress, such as Hans Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), which outlines the stages of alarm, resistance, and exhaustion, provided a framework for understanding the physiological responses to stress. Additionally, we explored the psychological aspects of stress, focusing on the role of cognitive appraisal in determining whether an event is perceived as stressful. The chapter highlighted common sources of stress, such as work, relationships, and major life changes, and introduced coping strategies, including problem-focused and emotion-focused coping, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques.

    Health: The relationship between stress and health is complex and bidirectional. Chronic stress can lead to various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, weakened immune function, and mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Conversely, poor health can increase stress levels, creating a detrimental cycle. We examined the biopsychosocial model of health, which integrates biological, psychological, and social factors in understanding health and illness. This holistic perspective underscores the importance of lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, sleep, and social support, in maintaining health and managing stress. The chapter also covered the concept of health psychology, which focuses on how behavioral, cognitive, and social factors influence health and illness, and how psychological interventions can promote health and well-being.

    The Self: Understanding the self is crucial in managing stress and maintaining health. The self-concept, which encompasses our beliefs and perceptions about ourselves, plays a significant role in how we respond to stress. A positive self-concept and high self-esteem can buffer against stress and its negative effects. We explored how self-awareness and self-regulation contribute to health behaviors and stress management. The chapter also discussed the importance of resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity, and the factors that contribute to it, such as optimism, social support, and coping skills. Additionally, we examined how self-compassion, the practice of being kind and understanding toward oneself, can mitigate stress and promote psychological well-being.

    Through the integration of these topics, the chapter provides a comprehensive understanding of how stress affects health and the crucial role the self plays in this dynamic. By learning about the physiological and psychological mechanisms of stress, the impact of lifestyle choices on health, and the importance of a resilient and positive self-concept, readers gained valuable insights and practical strategies to enhance their well-being and navigate the challenges of life more effectively. This holistic approach empowers individuals to take proactive steps in managing stress, improving health, and fostering a healthy and resilient self.

    5.1: Introduction to Stress, Health and the Self is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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