Meeting Life Challenges Chapter 3 Notes, QnA 2023

Meeting Life Challenges

Nature, Types, Sources of Stress and Effects of Stress

Basic Features of stress

Stress is a part of life. Stress is neither a stimulus nor a response but an ongoing transactional process between the individual and the environment.

Life’s challenges are posed under various circumstances like examinations in a student’s life, challenges about a career, or of a child who loses his/her parents, a young woman who loses her husband in an accident etc. All of us try to meet these challenges in our own way.

All life’s challenges are not necessarily stressful. It depends on how a challenge is viewed. Stress is like electricity which provides energy but too high or too little energy, becomes hazardous.

Similarly, too much stress or too little. Stress has adverse effects on our well-being, optimum stress is healthy.

Stress can be defined as the pattern of responses an organism makes to stimulus events that disturbs the equilibrium and exceeds a person’s ability to cope.

Stress has two levels:

Eustress: It is good, healthy, positive, inspiring and motivational. The term was coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, consisting of the Greek prefix eu- meaning “good”, and stress, literally meaning “good stress”. It can be used to reach peak performance and manage crises.

Distress: Distress refers to non specific symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. Distress comes together with feelings of anxiety which are considered as negative and unwanted.

Distress hinders a person’s ability to function normally, communicate and think clearly. If it continues on a long-term basis, it can become detrimental to a person’s mental and physical health.

Nature of Stress

Meeting life challenges

Psychological Meaning of Stress

The word stress comes from the Latin words ‘strictus’, which means tight or narrow and ‘stringere, the verb meaning to tighten. These root word reflect the internal feelings of tightness and constriction of muscles and breathing, a common sign of stress.

Hans Selye on stress: Hans Selye, in 1936, the father of modern stress research, defined stress as “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand” that is, regardless of the cause of the threat, the individual will respond with the same physiological pattern of reactions.

Lazarus and colleagues: The stress process, based on the cognitive theory of stress propounded by Lazarus and his colleagues, is described in the figure below:

Meeting life challenges

An individual’s response to a stressful situation largely depends upon the perceived events and how they are interpreted or appraised. Lazarus has distinguished between two types of appraisals, ie, primary and secondary challenge.

(a) Primary Appraisal: Primary appraisal refers to the perception of a new or changing environment as positive, neutral or negative in its consequences. Negative events are appraised for their possible harm, threat or challenges.

  • Harm appraisals is the assessment of the damage that has already been done by an event.
  • Threat appraisals is the assessment of possible future damage that may be brought about by the event.
  • Challenge appraisals are associated with more confident expectations of the ability to cope with the stressful event, the potential to overcome and even profit from the event.

(b) Secondary Appraisal: Secondary appraisal refers to that assessment of one’s coping abilities resources and whether they will be sufficient to meet the harm, threat or challenge of the event. 

These resources may be mental, physical, personal or social. If he/she thinks that they have a positive attitude, health, skills and social support to deal with the crises, and how much money we have, etc., he/she will feel less stressed.

Appraisals are very subjective and will depend on many factors:

  • Past experience of dealing with such a stressful condition: If one has handled similar situations very successfully in the past, they would be less threatening for him/her.
  • Whether the stressful event is perceived as controllable, ic., whether one has mastery or control over a situation.

Signs And Symptoms of Stress:

There are individual differences in coping patterns of stress response and therefore the warning signals or signs also vary in its intensity.

The signs of stress are very much dependent on how an individual views them or its dimension i. e. intensity, duration, predictability or complexity.

Some of the psychological and emotional signs that you’re stressed out include:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Anger, irritability, or restlessness
  • Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Racing thoughts or constant worry
  • Problems with your memory or concentration
  • Making bad decisions

The warning signs and its manifestation as symptoms of stress can be physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral.

Types of Stress

Stress is a feeling of emotional strain and pressure. Following are the main types of stress:

(a) Physical and Environmental Stress: Demands that change the state of our body

(overexert ourselves physically, lack a nutritious diet, suffer an injury, or fail to get enough sleep). 

Environmental stresses are aspects of our surroundings that are often unavoidable such as air pollution, crowding, noise, heat of the summer, winter cold, disasters.

(b) Psychological Stress: These are stresses that we generate ourselves in our minds. These are personal and unique to the person experiencing them and are internal sources of stress.

• Frustration results from the blocking of needs and motives by something or someone that hinders us from achieving a desired goal (social discrimination, low grades).

• Conflicts may occur between two or more incompatible needs or motives.

Pressure (Expectations)

• Internal pressure stem from beliefs based upon expectations from inside us to ourselves

• Social pressure may be brought about from people who make excessive demands on us. Also, there are people with whom we face interpersonal difficulties

(c) Social stress: Social stress is caused due to social interaction. Social events like death or illness in the family, strained relationships, trouble with neighbors, rapid social change, poverty, discrimination, poor societal conditions are example of social stress. Social stress can emerge in a number of situations

Sources of Stress

They vary widely from person to person.

Life Events: Major life events can be stressful, because they disturb our routine and cause upheaval.

If several of these life events that are planned trg, moving into a new house) or unpredicted (e.g., break-ups of a long-term relationship) occur within a short period of time, we find it difficult to cope with them and will be more prone to the symptoms of stress.

Both positive and negative life events which necessitates change in a person’s life can lead to stress.

Hassles: Personal stresses we endure as individuals, due to the happenings in our daily life. These daily hassles may sometimes have devastating consequences for the individual who is often the one coping alone with them as others may not even be aware of them as outsiders.

Traumatic Events: Variety of extreme events (fire, train or road accident, robbery, earthquake, tsunami). The effects of these events may occur after some lapse of time and sometimes persist as symptoms of anxiety, flashbacks, dreams and intrusive thoughts. etc. Severe trauma can also strain relationships. Professional help will be needed to cope with them.

Effects of Stress of Psychological Functioning and Health

(a) Emotional Effects: Experience mood swings, show erratic behavior or maladjustment with family and friends, start a vicious circle of decreasing confidence, intolerance leading to more serious emotional problems.

(b) Physiological Effects: Increases the production of certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones produce marked changes in heart-rate, blood-pressure levels, metabolism and physical activity.

Helps us function more effectively when we are under pressure for short periods of time, it can be extremely damaging to the body in the long-term.

(c) Cognitive Effects: If pressures due to stress continue, one may suffer from mental overload. This suffering from high levels of stress can rapidly cause individuals to lose their ability to make sound decisions, poor concentration, and reduced short-term memory capacity.

(d) Behavioural Effects: Disrupted sleep patterns, increased absenteeism, reduced work performance.

● Burn out: State of physical, emotional and psychological exhaustion.

● Stress and health: Stress plays a role in 50 to 70% of all physical illness, primarily through its effect on the immense system.

● By draining our resources and keeping us off balance physiological, stress upsets our complex internal chemistry.

● It may interfere with efficient operation of our immune system-the mechanism through which our body recognizes and destroys potentially harmful substances and intruders such as bacteria, virus and fungi known as antigens. When stress is prolonged, it affects physical health and impairs psychological functioning.

● The physical exhaustion fatigue, in the signs of chronic fatigue weakness and low energy. The mental exhaustion appears in the form of irritability, anxiety, feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.

● This state of physical, emotional and psychological exhaustion is known as burnout which leads to poor health.

General Adaptation Syndrome gave by Hans Seyle

Hans Selye’s GAS Model explains the influence of stress on the body.

■ From his studies, he found that there was a similar pattern of bodily responses in animals to a variety of stressors.

■ According to him, stress refer to non-specific bodily reactions. He believed that stresses may be many but responses are only physiological reactions. Selye is known as ‘father of modern stress researches’. He did many experiments on animals in extreme climatic conditions as well as he observed chronic patients and concluded that the reaction of stress is the same.

■ On the basis of his experimental conclusions, he gave a pattern of stress reactions. He called this pattern the General Adaptation Syndrome and it involves three stages:

Stages of GAS

Meeting life challenges

Stage 1- Alarm Reaction Stage: The presence of a noxious stimulus or stressor leads to activation of the adrenal-pituitary-cortex system. This triggers the release of hormones producing the stress response. Now the individual is ready for fight or flight.

Stage 2- Resistance Stage: If stress is prolonged, the resistance stage begins. The parasympathetic nervous system calls for more cautious use of the body’s resources. The organism makes efforts to cope with the threat, as through confrontation.

Stage 3-Exhaustion stage: The stage is the result of prolonged or chronic stress. Continued exposure to the same a stressor or additional stressors drains the body of its resources and leads to the third stage of exhaustion. 

The physiological systems involved in alarm reaction and resistance become ineffective and susceptibility to stress-related diseases such as high blood-pressure becomes more likely.

Criticisms of GAS:

Assigning a very limited role to psychological factors in stress. Psychoneuroimmunology focuses on the links between the mind, the brain, and the immune system.

Stress And The Immune System

  • Stress can cause illness by impairing the working of the immune system.
  • Immune system guards the body against attackers within and outside when we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off infections is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections.
  • Excessive release of stress hormones affects immune system
  • Stress impairs working of immune system
  • Psychoneuroimmunology: link between mind, brain and immune system
  • Leucocytes (white blood cells) identify and destroy antigens (foreign bodies) such as viruses
  • Also leads to the production of antibodies

Leukocytes are of three types:

1. T cells: T cells destroy invaders and T-helper cells increase immunological activity. T helper cells are attacked by HIV leading to AIDS

2. B cells: Produce antibodies

3. Natural killer cells: Involved in fight against tumor and viruses

• Stress affects natural killer cell cytotoxicity (defence against infections and viruses)

• Reduced levels of cytotoxicity have been found in stressed people including people facing exams, bereaved people and severely depressed people

• Individuals with social support have better immune functioning

• People with already weakened systems are affected more

• Depression, hostility, anger and aggression accompany stress

• Psychological disorders increase with long term stress- prone to panic attacks, obsessive behavior, mood swings, phobias, depression, anger.

Stress and Lifestyle

• Lifestyle is the overall pattern of decisions and behavior that determine a person’s health and quality of life.

• Stressed individuals are more likely to expose themselves to pathogens (agents causing physical sickness)

• Poor nutritional habits, sleep less and engage in smoking and drinking

• Have long term risks

• Health promoting behavior like having a balanced diet, regular sleep schedule, exercise and family support helps

• Fast paced lifestyle, drinking, eating junk affects our health negatively

Textbook Questions And Answers

Q.1. Explain the concept of stress. Give examples from daily life.

Ans. (i) Stress can be described as the pattern of responses an organism makes to a stimulus event that disturbs the equilibrium and exceeds a person’s ability to cope.

(ii) The word stress has its origin in the Latin words ‘strictus’, meaning tight or narrow and “stringere’, the verb meaning to tighten.

(iii) Stressors are events that cause our body to give stress response. e.g., noise, crowding, a bad relationship, or office.

(iv) The reaction to external stressors is called ‘strain’

(v) Hans Selye, the father of modern stress research, defined stress as “the non-specific response .of the body to any demand” that is, regardless of the cause of threat, the individual will respond with the same physiologic… pattern of reactions.

(vi) Stress is embedded in an ongoing process that involves individuals transacting with their social and cultural environments etc.

(vii) Stress is a dynamic mental or cognitive state.

(viii) It is a disruption in homeostasis or an imbalance that gives rise to requirement for resolution of the imbalance or restoration of homeostasis.

(ix) The perception of stress is dependent upon the individual’s cognitive appraisal of events and the resources available to deal with them.

Q.2. State the symptoms and sources of stress.

Ans. (1) Symptoms: The symptoms of stress can be physical, emotional and behavioral. Some of the symptoms or signs of stress are lack of concentration, memory loss, poor decision-making, inconsistency, low self-esteem, fear, depression, worry, anxiety and emotional mood swings.

Any of the symptoms can indicate a degree of stress which, if left unresolved, might have serious implications.

(2) Sources of stress: A wide range of events and conditions can generate stress. Most important source of stress are as mentioned below:

(i) Major stressful life events, such as death of a loved one or personal injury because they disturb routine and cause upheaval.

(ii) The annoying frequent hassles of everyday life such as noisy surroundings, quarrelsome neighbors, electricity and water shortage etc. The more stress people report as a result of daily hassles, the poorer is their psychological well-being.

(iii) Traumatic events are a fire, train or road accident, robbery, earthquake. The effects of these events may occur after some lapse of time as dreams and intrusive thoughts etc.

Q.3. Describe the GAS model and illustrate the relevance of this model with the help of an example.

Ans. (i) Hans Selye is the father of modern stress research.

(ii) He studied the issue of stress by subjecting animals to a variety of stressors as well as patients with various injuries.

(iii) He noticed a similar pattern of bodily response in all of them. He called this pattern the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).

(iv) GAS involves three stages: alarm reaction, resistance and exhaustion.

(1) Alarm reaction stage: 

(a) This stressor leads to activation of adrenal pituitary-cortex system.

(b) This triggers the release of hormones producing the stress response. 

(c) And the individual is ready for fight or flight.

(2) Resistance stage: 

(a) If the stress is prolonged, the resistance stage begins. 

(b) The parasympathetic nervous system calls for more cautious use of the body’s resources. 

(c) The organism makes an effort to cope with the threat.

(3) Exhaustion stage: 

(a) Continued exposure to the same stressor or additional stressors drains the body of its resources and cause exhaustion. 

(b) The physiological system and resistance become ineffective and this leads to stress-related diseases such as high blood pressure.

(v) (a) This model (GAS) has been criticised for assigning a limited role to psychological factors in stress. 

(b) Psychological appraisal of events is important for the determination of stress. 

(c) The response of the people to stress is substantially influenced by their perceptions, personalities and biological constitutions.

Q.4. Enumerate the different ways of coping with stress.

Ans. (A) Coping is a dynamic situation-specific reaction to stress. It is a set of concrete responses to stressful situations or events that are intended to resolve the problem and reduce stress. Three coping strategies given by Endler and Parker are as given below:

(i) Task-oriented Strategy: 

(a) This involves obtaining information about the stressful situation and about alternative courses of action and their probable outcome. 

(b) It involves to act directly with the stressful situation. For example, schedule my time better or think about how I have solved similar problems.

(ii) Emotion-oriented Strategy: 

(a) It involves efforts to maintain hope and to control one’s emotions. 

(b) It can also involve venting feelings of anger and frustration, or deciding that nothing can be done to change things. For example, tell myself that it is not really happening to me, or worry about what I am going to do.

(iii) Avoidance-oriented Strategy: 

(a) This involves denying or minimizing the seriousness of the situation. 

(b) It involves conscious suppression of stressful thoughts and their replacement by self-protective thoughts. 

(c) Examples watching TV, phone up a friend.

(B) Lazarus and Folkman has divided coping responses into problem-focused and emotion-focused

(i) (a) Problem-focused strategies attack the problem.

 (b) They increase the person’s awareness and level of knowledge. 

(c) They can act to reduce the threat value of the event.

(ii) Emotion-focused Strategies: These call for psychological changes to limit the degree of emotional disruption caused by an event.

Q.5. Explain the effects of stress on psychological functioning.

Ans. The effects of stress on psychological functioning are as mentioned below:

(i) The body increases production of certain hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones produce marked changes in heart rate, blood pressure levels, metabolism and physical activity.

(ii) Such physical reaction help us to function more effectively for a short periods but it can be extremely damaging to the body in the long-term effects.

(iii) Psychological effects – Slowing down of the digestive system, expansion of air passages in the lungs, increased heart rate and constriction of blood vessels.

Q.6. Describe how life skills can help meet life’s challenges.

Ans. Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. Some life skills are as mentioned below:

(i) Assertiveness: Assertiveness is a behavior or skill that helps to communicate clearly our feelings, needs, wants and thoughts. If you are assertive, you feel confident and have high self-esteem and a solid sense of your own identity.

(ii) Time Management

(a) It determines the quality of life. 

(b) Time management helps to relieve pressure. 

(c) The central principle of time management is to spend your time doing the things that you value or that help you to achieve your goals.

(iii) Rational Thinking: Principles of rational thinking are challenging your distorted thinking and irrational beliefs, driving out potentially intrusive negative anxiety provoking thoughts and making positive statements.

(iv) Improving Relationships: The key to a sound lasting relationship is communication i.e., three skills (a) listening (b) expressing your opinions and (c) accepting the other person’s opinions even if they are different from your own.

(v) Self-care: We should take care of our health. If we are healthy and relaxed we are better prepared to tackle the stresses of everyday life.

(vi) Overcoming Unhelpful Habits: Unhelpful habits such as perfectionism, avoidance procrastination are strategies that help to cope in the short-term but which make individuals vulnerable to stress. 

For example, perfectionists want to get everything just as they want, which is not always possible. Avoidance is ignoring the issue and refusal to face it or accept it.

Procrastination means putting off what we know we need to do i.e., postponing things like “I will do it later”, just to avoid confrontation due to the fear of failure.

Q.7. Discuss the factors that lead to positive health and well-being. [CBSE 2013]

Ans. The factors that lead to positive health and well-being are diet, exercise, positive attitude, positive thinking and social support. These are explained below:

(i) Diet: A balanced diet can lift one’s mood, give more energy, feed muscles, improve circulation, prevent illness, strengthen immune system and make one feel better to cope with stresses of life. There should be three meals a day and a well-balanced diet.

(ii) Exercise: There should be regular exercise to manage weight and stress. It reduces tension, anxiety and depression. Useful exercises are yogic asanas, jogging, swimming etc.

(iii) Positive Attitude: It includes to have a fairly accurate perception of reality, a sense of purpose in life and responsibility. It includes taking credit for success and accepting blame for failure.

(iv) Positive Thinking: Positive thinking reduces stress as well as helps in coping with stress. Optimism leads to physical and psychological well-being. Optimists use more problem-focused coping strategies and seek advice and help from others.

(v) Social Support: It can help to provide protection against stress. Support from family and friends experience less stress. Social support may be in the form of tangible support i.e., money, goods. services, etc. 

Family and friends also provide informational support about stressful events such as difficult board examination. Emotional support is provided by reassuring the individual that he is loved, valued and cared for.

Q.8. How does stress affect the immune system?

Ans. (i) Stress can cause illness by impairing the workings of the immune system.

(ii) Psychoneuroimmunology focuses on the links between the mind, the brain and the immune system.

(iii) Stress can affect natural killer cell cytotoxicity, which is of major importance in the defense against various infections and cancer.

(iv) Changes in the immune system have more effect on health among those whose immune systems are already weakened.

(v) Psychological stress is accompanied by negative emotions and associated behaviors including depression, anger and aggression.

(vi) Negative emotions are related to the function of the immune system.

Q.9. Give an example of a life event which is likely to be stressful. Suggest reasons why it is likely to cause different degrees of stress to the person experiencing it.

Ans. Death of a younger brother is a life event which is likely to be stressful. It may be a cause of stress to an individual. A person’s response to stress largely depends on how the events are appraised or interpreted. 

This has been explained by Lazarus in his cognitive theory of stress. The main reasons to cause different degrees of stress are as mentioned below:

(i) Stress depends on his primary or secondary appraisal. Primary appraisal refers to the perception of a new environment as positive, neutral or negative.

(ii) In the present case of death of a younger brother, it has harmful effects because he was an earning member and the income of the family has come down.

(iii) There is now financial problem in the family. It is also a threat for the education of children.

Not only this, the event is a challenge for the family to have an alternative source of income. Thus, there are different type of stresses in the family due to death of a younger brother.

(iv) Under secondary appraisal coping abilities are analyzed. In the present case if elder brother is able to increase his income or another person in the family starts earning, harm, threat or challenges may be overcome. The family can then lead a happy life.

Q.10. Given what you know about coping strategies, what suggestions would you give to your friends to avoid stress in their everyday lives.

Ans. I would give the following suggestions to my friends to avoid stress in their everyday lives, particularly task-oriented strategy.

(i) I would suggest them to obtain information about the stressful situation and about alternative courses of action and their probable outcome.

(ii) I would suggest to decide priorities and acting so as to deal directly with the stressful situation.

Such actions would be helpful in studies well as during examinations. They would be able to schedule their time better and make proper preparation for the examinations. They should think positively. This would enable them to overcome stress successfully.

Q.11. Reflect on the environmental factors that have (a) a positive impact on the human being, and (b) a negative effect.

Ans. (a) The environment plays a crucial role in people’s physical, mental and social well-being as mentioned below:

(i) Natural resources such as coal, iron help in the progress of the country, particularly economic development.

(ii) Environmental factors sustain health. They are promoting them in preventive medicine.

(iii) They are sources of nutrition, hunting, fishing etc..

(iv) Clean environment helps in air quality.

(v) Ozone layer is a factor of the environment that protects from UV.

(vi) Environment provides space for exercise and recreation.

(b) Negative effects 

(i) The degradation of the environment through air pollution, noise, chemicals, poor quality of water and loss of natural areas combined with lifestyle changes, have and nervous system and contributed substantially. There is increase in rates of obesity, diabetes, diseases of the cardiovascular, nervous system and cancer. Mental health problems are also on the rise.

(ii) It causes natural disasters such as floods, droughts, earthquakes which lead to loss of life and property.

Q.12. We know that certain lifestyle factors can cause stress and may lead to diseases like cancer and coronary heart disease, yet we are unable to change our behavior. Explain why ?

Ans. (i) Lifestyle is the overall pattern of decisions and behaviors that determine a person’s health and quality of life.

(ii) Stressed individuals may be more likely to expose themselves to pathogens, which are agents causing physical illness.

(iii) People who are stressed have poor nutritional habits, sleep less and start smoking and drinking alcohol.

(iv) Poor lifestyle poses a risk to our lives. This leads to various diseases such as cancer and coronary heart disease.

But in spite of the dangers to our lives, we are unable change our behavior due to various factors as mentioned below:

(i) The consequences and side effects do not occur immediately. Their effects such as heart attack get manifested after several years. So people ignore them.

(ii) Now-a-days people are so busy in their activities that they do not find enough time for physical exercise and morning walk etc. They have to spend long hours going to the office and coming back home.

(iii) Lifestyle has become a part of their habit pattern. A modern youngman does not want to walk. He uses his car or other means of conveyance for going to market near to their homes.

(iv) People have no time to prepare food at home as both the husband and wife are working. So they go to the market or order a pizza or other fast food to satisfy their hunger and appetite. These type of foods ultimately lead to various types of diseases, but they have no alternative due to shortage of time in fast modern city life.

Final Words:

From the above article you have read about class 12 psychology notes and questions answers meeting life challenges. We hope this article meeting life challenges questions answers will definitely help you for your exam.

Share on: