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Stress - Psychology Essay

Updated: Oct 3, 2020


What Is Stress?

Stress is the emotional and physical strain caused by our response to pressure from the outside world. Common stress reactions include tension, irritability, inability to concentrate, and a variety of physical symptoms that include headache and a fast heartbeat.

It's almost impossible to live without some stress. And most of us wouldn't want to, because it gives life some spice and excitement. But if stress gets out of control, it may harm your health, your relationships, and your enjoyment of life.

Stress- is "a particular pattern of disturbing psychological and physiological reactions that occur when an environment event threatens important motives and taxes one's ability to cope."

In plain English, stress is the "wear and tear" our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment.

But not all stress is bad -- some stress is good. In fact, everyone needs stress in their lives; without it, life would be dull and unexciting. Stress adds flavor, challenge and opportunity to life. Stress can pump you up, give you energy, supply that zest for living.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. The challenges caused by stress help to develop new skills and behavior patterns. The problems occur, however, when stress becomes excessive. It can become destructive and can turn into distress. Too much stress on your mind and body can make you feel miserable, worried, sad and ill.

Contrary to popular belief, stress is not the pressure from the outside--the divorce, the death, the burned supper, the vacation, the isolation. Those are stressors. Your response to those situations constitutes stress.

Coping Mechanisms

We are complex animals living complex lives in which we are not always able to cope with the difficulties that we face. As a result, we are subject to feelings of tension and stress, for example the cognitive dissonance and potential shame of doing something outside our values. To handle this discomfort we use various coping methods.

  • Acting out: not coping - giving in to the pressure to misbehave.

  • Aim inhibition: lowering sights to what seems more achievable.

  • Attack: trying to beat down that which is threatening you.

  • Avoidance: mentally or physically avoiding something that causes distress.

  • Compartmentalization: separating conflicting thoughts into separated compartments.

  • Compensation: making up for a weakness in one area by gain strength in another.

  • Conversion: subconscious conversion of stress into physical symptoms.

  • Denial: refusing to acknowledge that an event has occurred.

  • Displacement: shifting of intended action to a safer target.

  • Dissociation: separating oneself from parts of your life.

  • Fantasy: escaping reality into a world of possibility.

  • Idealization: playing up the good points and ignoring limitations of things desired.

  • Identification: copying others to take on their characteristics.

  • Intellectualization: avoiding emotion by focusing on facts and logic.

  • Introjection: Bringing things from the outer world into the inner world.

  • Passive aggression: avoiding refusal by passive avoidance.

  • Projection: seeing your own unwanted feelings in other people.

  • Rationalization: creating logical reasons for bad behavior.

  • Reaction Formation: avoiding something by taking a polar opposite position.

  • Regression: returning to a child state to avoid problems.

  • Repression: subconsciously hiding uncomfortable thoughts.

  • Somatization: psychological problems turned into physical symptoms.

  • Sublimation: channeling psychic energy into acceptable activities.

  • Suppression: consciously holding back unwanted urges.

  • Symbolization: turning unwanted thoughts into metaphoric symbols.

  • Trivializing: Making small what is really something big.

  • Undoing: actions that psychologically 'undo' wrongdoings for the wrongdoer.

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