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Stress Impacts on Psychological and Physiological Health


Different people have different levels to which they can effectively withstand stressing environmental conditions. Factors such as personality types, emotional stability attributes of different people, and more importantly, personal temperaments may determine this ability. Exposure to stressing environmental conditions has negative consequences to both psychological and physiological health of people. This paper summarizes Chapter 13 of Hockenbury and Hockenbury (2008). It also identifies three important strategies for coping with stress at a personal level.

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Chapter Summary

Chapter 13 of Hockenbury and Hockenbury (2008) reveals that the relationship that occurs between the body and mind constitutes an important aspect of health psychology, a major area of specialization in the broader discipline of psychology. Social and psychological factors relate to physical health. For example, inaccessibility to medical care, poverty, and discrimination are some of the social factors that lead to poor physical health (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). Depression and stress are psychological factors that lead to poor health. Apart from these factors, the chapter identifies behavioral elements such as substance abuse that lead to poor health. The primary objective of the chapter entails investigating the “role that different biological, psychological, and social factors play in people’s experience of health and illness” (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008, p.529). In this endeavor, the chapter first introduces the concept of stress.

All sources of stress are called stressors. Hockenbury and Hockenbury (2008) assert that life is has many stressors with all situations or events acting as potential sources of stress in case one questions his or her ability to cope with stresses. The author suggests that any change in life events is stressful. However, the chapter identifies weakness of the life events approach to studying stresses. For example, it argues that SRRS suffers from weak relationships between its scores and development of psychological together with physical problems. The approach also generalizes people on the basis that each stressful condition has equal implications on all people. The assumption that both negative and positive events produce stress disagrees with scholarly findings, which establish that negative changes in life events produce more stress.

Along with the above drawbacks of events approach, Hockenbury and Hockenbury (2008) assert that traumatic events, especially those that involve surviving or witnessing, are highly stressful. They may include sexual assault, exposure to warfare, disasters, accidents, and family violence among others. Such events may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). Inferring from the work of Seery and his colleague, published in 2010, the authors note that exposure to high cumulative adversity life events has more harmful effects on people’s health. However, they associate coping skills with experiencing stressful conditions as opposed to not witnessing due to the absence of confidence in the ability to deal with stressful events in case they re-occur. Hence, exposure to adversity helps in building stress resilience. Apart from major events, daily life hassles such as misplacing one’s keys and heated arguments may also induce stress. Burnout at work and exhaustion also cause stress (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). Thus, having control of work reduces incidents of getting stressed.

Stress can be caused by cultural and social factors, especially for disadvantaged groups of people who live in areas with high crime rates, crowded dwellings, and poor housing (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). The authors also note that SES (social economic status) has effects on stress. The authors argue that low SES people have a tendency of depicting more negative life experiences and daily life hassles (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). Therefore, it is not surprising that such people encounter higher psychological distress, high levels of premature deaths, and poor health outcomes. Low SES, discrimination, and racism are presidents of chronic stress. In the case of refugees, children who are learning new cultures and immigrant groups may suffer from stress due to cultural clashes.

Hockenbury and Hockenbury (2008) investigate various physical effects of stress. Stress impairs physical health by affecting the endocrine system, chromosomes, and the human immune system. To deal with stressful conditions and the impacts of stress on an individual, it is crucial to adopt various coping mechanisms. Response to stress is impacted by various individual factors (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). The authors identify two such factors as psychological and social factors. Psychological factors include individual management, descriptive styles (cynical v. positive), and conduct pattern (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). An important social factor that affects the ability to deal with stress is collective support or things that are provided to an individual by other people. For example, collective support may modify people’s perception about stressors. This situation has an impact on the significance attached to a given stressor, and hence its harmful effects (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). Social support has an effect on the formation of interpersonal relationships, which are less stressful. They make an individual experience less negative emotions. However, this case only happens where such social support is appropriate. Indeed, inappropriate social support may increase stress levels (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). However, gender differences are evident when coping with stress through social support. For example, men tend to open up to their spouses while women open to their friends with their spouses as confidants.

After exposure to stress, it is necessary to develop appropriate strategies for dealing with it, and hence the process of coping with stress (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). Such strategies may be problem-focused since they aim at modifying or changing the stressor or emotion-focused, aiming at altering reactions to the stressor. In the closing remarks, the chapter notes that stress is an unavoidable component of life. Therefore, the differences between how it influences people depends on their ability to cope with it (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2008). From this conclusive remark, it becomes important for individuals to scrutinize their strategies for coping with stress for them to live productive and healthier lives. The next section discusses my approaches to coping with stress.

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My Ways of Coping with Stress

Although stress may have some positive implications on people, its management mainly concerns dealing with its negative consequences in all walks of life. Stress management implies the deployment of psychotherapeutically designed techniques for reducing and keeping stress levels in check to guarantee proper functioning of people in their everyday work. I am studying as an international student. I experience various stressful conditions in my daily hassles. To minimize the effects of strenuous conditions I have adopted the following three key coping mechanisms.


Lack of practice and excessive stress level that are beyond people’s stress thresholds may induce common illness such as aches and pains, inflexibility, and lack of mental relaxation. Hence, excising can help to mitigate these challenges. Stress translates into uncomfortable life through the reduction of its joy by conditions such as insomnia, headaches, and backaches. These challenges constitute the symptoms of major epidemic illness such as osteoporosis. Stress also correlates positively with vata derangement, a condition of reduced instability and flexibility upon excessive rise of air in the body. High levels of air have the implication of causing people to have mood swings due to lack of focus and rajasic mental state. Major symptoms for this condition include insomnia and anxiety. Stress relates to these symptoms. Exercising ensures that stressful daily hassles do not lead to these conditions.

Taking Breaks Regularly

Studying is a strenuous activity, which may lead to burnout in case one lacks control for it. Burnout constitutes a response to interpersonal and emotional stressors within work environments. It has inefficacy, belittling, and psychological and poignant exhaustion as its main aspects. In particular, studying work-related burnout may have negative implications on my effectiveness in class and health.

To cope with the stress associated with studying, I have adopted the practice of taking breaks. During the breaks, I engage in activities such as watching TV, and going out with friends, or meeting with them. This strategy helps in refocusing my attention to something else apart from the studies. Hockenbury and Hockenbury (2008) argue, “when you shift your attention away from the stressor and towards other activities, you are engaging in emotion-focused coping strategy called escape-avoidance” (p.551). Although this approach does not change the studying situation that leads to stressful conditions, it forms a good copping strategy since it helps in neutralizing or avoiding the stressor. Indeed, it is appropriate since the most effective way of dealing with studying stress is by calling off my studies. This method cannot be the case since I have a goal of completing my studies.

Calling my Family

Since I am an international student, I call my mother. This strategy reduces my stress. During the phone calls, I discuss with my mum about my life experiences at the college, including how I fill about the studies that I undertake. My mum not only gets an opportunity to provide her emotional support but also makes me feel relieved off the strenuous situations that I encounter. I just feel as if she is there physically with me to help me to tackle difficult assignments.

The coping strategy is based on research findings on the effectiveness of social interaction in reducing stress and helping to manage it. For example, in a study conducted at the beginning of the 1950s, college students were called upon to rate their parents in terms of their caring coupled with the love they extended to them (students). After a half century, Hockenbury and Hockenbury (2008) reported that 87% of all students rating their parents as extending low love and caring had physical diseases that were serious while only 25% of those who rated their parents as high in love and caring showed similar conditions. Hence, through the coping strategy, I can even avoid future physical problems.


Stress may have the implication of low satisfaction with life. It makes people incapable of working both effectively and efficiently. It correlates positively with burnout, which constitutes an important factor for low productivity. Stress is one of the risk factors for cancer, hypertension, and diabetes among other chronic ailments. Therefore, it is necessary for people to adopt strategies for coping effectively with it to live healthy lives.

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Hockenbury, D., & Hockenbury, S. (2008). Psychology. New York, NY: Worth Publisher.

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