Chapter 5

Mastery  vs. Management

n    Mastery

q    Part of the fabric of your life

q    Craft

q    Adds time

q    Cultivate wisdom

q    Increase awareness

q    Organic



n    Management

q    One more “thing” to do

q    Work

q    Takes time

q    Do exercises

q    Mechanical


Three weeks of training                 

n    For the next three weeks you will train in stress mastery and keep a journal specifically about your experiences.

Defining Stress

n    Anything that requires an adaptive response  on the part of the person.

n    So, stress is inescapable.

n    Eustress – positive stress

n    Distress – negative stress

Yerkes-Dodson Law

n    Performance on some types of tasks improves as arousal rises, but declines as arousal passes other levels.  The more complex the task the more higher arousal levels interfere with it.

n    Find your optimal level, neither bored and lackadaisical, nor hyped up and anxious.

Stress and Illness

n    Holmes and Rahe found that life stress can be a predictor of future illness.

n    They developed the Life Readjustment Scale

n    Take this test yourself and report about it in your next journal, pg. 66-68.

Negative Effects of Stress

n  Stress negatively affects your physical, psychological, and occupational functioning!

Physical Consequences

n    Under prolonged stress your immune system will weaken.

n    Glucocorticoids (stress hormones) in high amounts cause white blood cells to migrate to your bone marrow, making them less available to combat disease.





n    80% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress related disorders

n    50% OF ALL DEATHS in the U.S. are caused by cardiovascular problems and stress plays a major role in these disorders.

n    Most heart attacks occur around 9:00 AM Monday morning.

n    Severe stress is a major factor in strokes.


n    High blood pressure affects at least 30 million people in the U.S. with estimates going to 80 million.

n    Cholesterol levels in the bloodstream rise during periods of stress.

n    90% of people with irritable bowel syndrome or colitis have no organic basis for their condition.

n    Ulcers and other gastric disorders are related to effects of the stress hormone cortisol.


   Headaches are the number one complaint seen by physicians in the U.S. 80% of headaches are tension headaches, and the 18% of migranes are often triggered by stress.


   A 1991 and 1998 study showed that chronic stress increases the likelihood of catching a cold.



n     The stress hormone ACTH can impede endorphin production this causing increased pain.

n     Recent research suggests that stress plays a role in osteoporosis in women due to increased levels of stress hormones.

n     Dentists report that a high percentage of people grind their teeth at night.

n     Prolactin released by stress triggers joint swelling and influences rheumatoid arthritis.

n     During exam week students have lower levels of salivary immunoglobulin a defense against respiratory infections and also that students acne worsens under stress.


Psychological Consequences

n    Major factor in anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, depression, PTSD, obsessions, compulsions,  and all major psychiatric disorders.  In 1996, 1.5 billion people were suffering from some form of psychiatric disorder including 115 million dependent on alcohol and/or illegal drugs and 400 million suffering from anxiety disorders.

n    According to the WHO depression is the number one cause of disability worldwide.


n    Stress alters serotonin pathways, and imbalances in serotonin levels are linked to depression.

n    30 million Americans suffer from insomnia, sales of sedatives second only to aspirin.

n    24 million Americans use drugs to cope with stress, top three drugs are: tagamet (ulcers) inderal (hypertension) and xanax (anxiety).



n    10 million Americans are alcoholic, third major cause of death in U.S.

n    55% of all marriages end in divorce.  Stress is a major contributing factor to relationship conflicts.


Consequences in the Workplace

n     People are more accident-prone in times of stress.

n     Billions of dollars in lost productivity are lost every year due to absenteeism from physical and psychological problems.

n     80-90% of business dismissals may be linked to tension and the mental and physical problems related to it.

n     At least 25% of people in the U.S. suffer from stress overload at work, and insurance claims for disabilities have increased.


The Physiology of Stress

n    How does stress cause the problems we have just discussed?

n    The Fight or Flight response – prepares us for dealing with physical danger.  Autonomic activity increases, but then returns to a lower level, a state of homeostasis.

n    Women’s blood pressure goes up less in response to stress than men’s, but women react to a wider range of stressors.




The Downside of Flight or Fight

n    It is adaptive in the face of physical danger, but we modern people face other kinds of dangers:

q    Unpaid bills

q    Deadlines

q    Confrontations with others

q    Rush hour traffic

q    Demands from other people


n     So, these cause arousal from stress, but so do our anticipations and expectations of what will happen.

n     These cause the flight or fight response to occur, but this is not very helpful in these situations.




n    Hans Selye: General Adaptation Syndrome

q    Alarm Reaction

q    Stage of Resistance

q    Stage of Exhaustion

q    Stress Sensitization – before the stage of exhaustion sets in we may develop this phenomenon, where even the slightest stress triggers strong chemical reactions even though we realize that the situation may not be life and death, we have chemical reactions that are! See p. 77

The Role of the Mind

n     Norman Cousins’ humor therapy helped cure connective tissue disease.

n     Mr. Wright’s krebiozin cancer cure.  Drug—remission---info---relapse---Dr.’s ruse---recovery---more info----death

n     The power of the Placebo Effect

n     PNI – psychneuroimmunology- study of the mind-body connection, one example is a theory that the depressive response in humans is a survival mechanism to conserve energy



n    In addition to GAS, perhaps there is a withdrawal response where people conserve energy by becoming depressed rather than anxious for example.

n    People respond differently to the same stressor, the interpretation given to the stressor helps determine whether we withdraw or become agitated.

n    Frames


n    The sweet solution immune suppression study in rats.

n    All the studies mentioned in the text demonstrate that the nervous system responds to classical conditioning, responding to the conditioned stimulus as if it were the unconditioned stimulus (the drug) if conditioning occurs.




n    In humans where our basic needs go unmet, causing us stress we respond with signs of decreased immune response, slow healing, premature death, and reduced health.

n    In one study at the Univ. of Pittsburgh those with the weakest social networks were four times as susceptible to colds than those with the strongest social networks.

n    The Mind has a significant role in healing!!





Chapter 6
Part II: The Art of Coping Gracefully

n    The Magic in Breathing

q    Active Relaxation vs. Passive Relaxation

q    Breathe from Your Diaphragm

q    Practice is Essential



The Value of Self-Awareness

n    Humans have the ability to be aware of many things in addition to their breathing.

n    The Witnessing Stance – the ability to view ourselves from the outside.  Freudians call this the observing ego.

n    Metacognition – becoming aware of your own thought processes

n    Metamood – becoming aware of your own emotions



Importance of Attitude

n    The attitude you have at the beginning of a task is more influential than any other single factor in the outcome the task you may be trying to perform.

n    Susan Kobasa developed the concept of Stress Hardiness Attitudes,i.e. attitudes that facilitate effectively dealing with stressors.

n    They are control, commitment, and challenge.


n    Stress hardy individuals believe they are in control of their lives rather than being controlled by stressors.

n    They tend to have an internal locus of control and to take a proactive stance.

n    Rat electroshock studies….


n    Believing that what you do has value and taking pleasure in the doing of it.

n    An optimistic attitude toward your activities.

n     Feeling a sense of enjoyment toward your job and life in general is related to reduced rates of heart disease.


n    Seeing the potential opportunities in dealing with crises or challenges.

n    The Chinese “danger and opportunity” characters describe this.

n    Good coping involves seeing the opportunity in a challenging situation.

Hardiness and Stress Resistance


The Three C’s in Action

n    After Hurricane Andrew three styles of coping emerged

q    1. The Whiners – people who consistently bemoaned all the problems caused.

q    2. The Stiff Upper Lip Crowd – People who didn’t complain and did what was necessary, but internally focused on how bad it all was.

q    3. The Adventurers – They focused on how interesting and exciting the rebuilding task was and delighted in the new sense of community.


n    Which style do you think coped better?



n    “The Warrior’s Stance”

n    “If you lack the virtue, act the virtue.” – Shakespeare

n    Changes in physiology must occur along with changes in thoughts to have the best affect on reducing tension and stress.

n    Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Edmund Jacobson 1929.


Improving Health

n    Psychosomatic disorders – those physical disorders affected or sometimes caused by stress and psychological factors.

n    Lifestyle Modifications:

q    Improve diet

q     Quit smoking

q    Get regular exercise

q    Eliminate substance abuse

q    Use stress management techniques

q    Follow proper medication regimens

Cumulative Benefits of Exercise

Proper Nutrition

n    Eat a variety of foods.

n    Eat more whole foods.

n    Avoid caffeine.

n    Avoid alcohol.

n    Take vitamins and minerals.

n    Eat frequent calm meals.

n    Maintain a healthy weight.