Research Question of the Week: What is Stress? - ABCbodybuilding

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Old 02-04-2006, 06:26 AM
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Default Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?

When you hear the term “stress” what is the first thing that pops into your mind?



The picture of this man is what typifies the term stress, for most of us. When we think of stress, words such as worry, fear, doubts, and apprehension always seem to pop up.

However, evidence suggests that stress is an absolutely intricate part of our everyday lives, and is in fact the basic principle behind resistance training.

Nonetheless, millions around the world do suffer from the adverse effects of “stress”.

Thus, the questions I propose to you are:

• What is stress?
• Are there such a thing as good and bad stress?
• How can/do we use stress to improve ourselves
• How can we relieve “bad” stress?

I plan on giving inputs on this topic throughout the next several weeks. I would really like to hear your guys incites. All comments, questions, theories, or suggestions are welcome.
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Matthew 7:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
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Old 02-04-2006, 06:35 PM
TheMac TheMac is offline
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?

ohhh i can't wait to get at this question once i get back from the gym. But keep in mind i only know the basics, maybe i'll get my psychology major friend to give some input [img]/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
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Old 02-04-2006, 10:52 PM
TheMac TheMac is offline
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?

ok i don't have much time so i will post the basics:

• What is stress?

Dr. Hans Selye (a pioneer in studying physiological responses) would define stress as "The nonspecific reponse of the body to any demand made upon it".

Stressors would be the things that upset or excite us in the same way whether they are positive or negative.

Stress can be acute, episodic, or chronic, depending on the nature of the stressor. Acute stressors trigger a breif but intense response to a specific incident. Episodic stress cause regular but intermittent elevations in stress levels. Chronic stressors are any long term stressors in one's life.


• Are there such a thing as good and bad stress?

Absolutely! Some of life's happiest moments are enormously stressful.

Selye describes eustress as the positive stress in our lives. Eustress challenges us to grow, adapt, and find creative solutions in our lives.

Distress refers to the negative effects of stress that can deplete or even destroy "life energy".


• How can/do we use stress to improve ourselves

Ideally, the level of stress in our lives should be just high enough to motivate us to satisfy our needs and not so high that it interferes with our ability to reach our fullest potentail.


• How can we relieve “bad” stress?

A few methods include:
-Breathing: deep breaths relax the body
-Refocusing: thining about a situation you can't control only increases the sress you feel. Focus on other subjects instead.
-Serenity breaks
-Stress signals: learn to recognize them and act early
-Reality checks: put things into proper perspective
-Laughter
-Spiritual coping
-Sublimation or redirection of engergy (aka. going for a run when you are upset)
-Exercise: regular physical activity can not only relieve stress but it also boosts energy, and lifts your mood and most importantly[b] controls stress[b]

Some more relaxation tips:

Relaxation is the physical and mental state opposite to stress. There are a few that i will go over once i get the time later today so stay tuned [img]/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

Also want to go over the General Adaptation Syndrome if nobody beats me to it [img]/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
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"The truth I’ve discovered is that you don’t have to lift enormous weights to grow muscle. By using stricter form, slower negatives, and stretching between sets you can get an incredible pump in all your workouts. Numbers are an abstraction, especially to muscles. Your body doesn’t know the absolute weight of what you lift, it only recognizes how heavy it feels. The secret is to make lighter weights feel heavier. " - Frank Zane

"Sacrifice: To give up, destroy, renounce, and surrender your ego, excuses, bad habits, fears, and your couch - in the belief of an ideal or pursuit of a worthy goal."

"All thing are possible to him who believes." -Mark 9:23
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Old 02-05-2006, 03:26 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?

Wow! Excellent response, bro! I could not have hoped for better feedback than that. I really look forward to more posts from you.

I'll add my comments sometime soon.
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Matthew 7:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
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Old 02-05-2006, 07:55 PM
TheMac TheMac is offline
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?

Alright i have some time to post about relaxtion methods [img]/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

As mentioned before Relaxation is the physical and mental opposite of stress. Rather than gearing for fight for flight (i'll go over this later), our bodies and minds can grow calmer and smother. We are less likely to become frazzled and more capable of staying in control. This most effective Relaxation methods include:

Progress Relaxation:
-Increasing and then decreasing the tension upon our muscles. While sitting long periods of time in one position certain muscles are always tensed, rather than having this have a "tensing and relaxation period every once in a while. This would include sitting or lying down in a quiet, comfortable setting and tensing and releasing certain muscles of the body. An example of this would be to begin with those of the hand, and then proceeding to the arms, shoulders, neck, face, scalp, chest, stomach, buttocks, ect..Relaxing those muscles can quiet the mind and restore internal balance.

Visualization:
-Creating mental pictures that calm you down and focus your mind.

Meditation:
-Meditation helps a person to reach a state of relaxation, but with with the goal of achieving inner peace and harmony. There is no one right way to meditate, many people have meditated before without even knowing they were doing it. The goal of meditation is free yourself and concentrate on turning the attention within.

Mindfulness:
-A modern form of an acient Asian technique that invloves maintaining awareness in the present moment. You tune in to each part of your body, scaning from head to toe, noting the slightest sensation. You allow whatever you experience, an itch, an ache, warmth to enter your awareness. Then you open yourself to focus on all the thoughts, sensations, sounds, and feelings that enter your awareness. This will keep you in the here and now, thinking about what is rather than about what if or if only.
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"The truth I’ve discovered is that you don’t have to lift enormous weights to grow muscle. By using stricter form, slower negatives, and stretching between sets you can get an incredible pump in all your workouts. Numbers are an abstraction, especially to muscles. Your body doesn’t know the absolute weight of what you lift, it only recognizes how heavy it feels. The secret is to make lighter weights feel heavier. " - Frank Zane

"Sacrifice: To give up, destroy, renounce, and surrender your ego, excuses, bad habits, fears, and your couch - in the belief of an ideal or pursuit of a worthy goal."

"All thing are possible to him who believes." -Mark 9:23
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  #6  
Old 02-06-2006, 09:33 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?

You are on fire, bro! I am glad I started this thread. We can continue this conversation for a while. [img]/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

[ QUOTE ]

Mindfulness:
-A modern form of an acient Asian technique that invloves maintaining awareness in the present moment. You tune in to each part of your body, scaning from head to toe, noting the slightest sensation. You allow whatever you experience, an itch, an ache, warmth to enter your awareness. Then you open yourself to focus on all the thoughts, sensations, sounds, and feelings that enter your awareness. This will keep you in the here and now, thinking about what is rather than about what if or if only.

[/ QUOTE ]

I was familar with the other techniques, but this was new to me. Its interesting how it is almost opposite to the other methods.
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Matthew 7:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
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Old 02-06-2006, 03:07 PM
ryancostill ryancostill is offline
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?

[ QUOTE ]


Progress Relaxation:
-Increasing and then decreasing the tension upon our muscles. While sitting long periods of time in one position certain muscles are always tensed, rather than having this have a "tensing and relaxation period every once in a while. This would include sitting or lying down in a quiet, comfortable setting and tensing and releasing certain muscles of the body. An example of this would be to begin with those of the hand, and then proceeding to the arms, shoulders, neck, face, scalp, chest, stomach, buttocks, ect..Relaxing those muscles can quiet the mind and restore internal balance.


[/ QUOTE ]

Here is some additional information on progressive muscle relaxation:

According to Cox, 2002, research has clearly shown progressive relaxation to be effective in invoking a relaxation response. Carlson and Hoyle, 1993, as cited in Cox 2002, report that abbreviated progressive relaxation training also is effective in reducing anxiety tension and stress.

Evidence suggests that PMR can be effective in improving athletic performance when utilised in conjunction with other cognitive techniques such as imagery (according to a review by Greenspan and Feltz, 1989, cited in Cox, 2002). Wrisberg and Anshel, 1989, demonstrated that PMR coupled with imagery work was effective in improving basketball shooting performance. In the study, neither PMR nor imagery alone elicited an enhanced performance. It has also been suggested that muscle relaxation can be effective in increasing an athletes pain tolerance. In pugilistic sports such as boxing, kick-boxing and wrestling this could be to the athlete’s advantage. An increased pain threshold could increase the amount of punishment an athlete could withstand and increase their capacity to “go the distance”. This could, therefore, indirectly improve sporting performance.

Ost (1988) gives outlines on the attainment of the ability to relax in a matter of seconds. The PMR process begins by introducing the individual to the ability to recognise the feeling of tension in comparison to relaxation. A script reader can be used this initial process and it is recommended the individual uses 15min PMR sessions twice daily. As described earlier, the second stage PMR programme is less dependent on a script reader or on the contraction/relaxation technique. The individual can begin to only utilise a “release” feeling in the muscles rather than the pre-contraction experienced in the first phase. This stage of PMR development can be practiced until it takes only 5-7 minutes to complete. The individual then progresses to a third stage of PMR development. This involves the use of controlled relaxation where breathing plays an important role. The time period of relaxation sessions in this stage is further shortened to two to three minutes. The fourth stage of the process is more applied. It involves the individual beginning to apply their relaxation techniques in normal environments and situations such as prior to the execution of sports skill. Here the relaxation process should be condensed to approximately 60 second time periods. The fifth stage sees the relaxation process condensed further to 20-30sec. The relaxation process here is combined with imagery. The individual simultaneously images stressful situations or situations in which relaxation will be essential. The final stage of the process involves the individual utilising the relaxation skills learned during or prior to performance.
Ost recommends individuals keep a diary monitoring their relaxation training. This will allow for individuals to chart their progress and may increase the likelihood of adherence.

Cox, R.,(2002). Sport Psychology, Concepts and applications. (5th ed). McGraw-Hill; London

Ost (1988) Applied Relaxation: Description of an Effective Coping Technique, Scandinavian Journal of Behaviour Therapy 17, p83-90
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Old 02-07-2006, 03:42 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?

That was off the hook! Thanks for the great information.
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Matthew 7:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Reply With Quote
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Old 02-08-2006, 03:28 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?

Ok, here are my thoughts on what stress is.

My bottom definition is rough, and I still need to make modifactions to it. But I am trying to tie all these concepts together in one definition. That may not be possible, though... It may be a good idea to break the elements down more.

Anyway, here it is. I hope it is Insightful, and I look forward to any feedback!

When you hear the term “stress” what is the first thing that comes to your mind? For many of us, words such as disease, worry, and apprehension always seem to pop up.

While stress can have deleterious effects, evidence suggests that stress plays an essential role in developing a healthy body, that is able to cope with the various demands thrown our way on a daily bases.

The topic of stress has been studied for almost a century now. Yet, there is no general consensus on the definition of stress. Therefore, the purpose of this post was to define stress, and explain the bodily response(s) to this phenomenon.

Simmons (2006) suggests that definitions of stress typically contain one or more of the following four elements: stressors, adaptations (responses), perceptions (cognitive/emotional), and effects (acute and chronic).

Selye (1930) suggested that a stressor was anything that causes the stress response. Stressors may consist of various stimuli in the environment, such as the climate, environment, or social conditions. The organism then responds, or adapts to the stressor. Wilson (2006) suggests than an adaptation can be defined as an acute or chronic modification of an organism or parts of an organism that make it more fit for existence under the conditions of its environment.

Perceptions can be defined as stimuli that an organism decides to take into its mind, based on importance (Simmons, 2006). Perceptions can determine what stimuli in the environment act as stressors, based on the organism’s appraisal of the stimuli. And finally, the results of the stress response can manifest themselves acutely or chronically, and be beneficial or deleterious

To tie these altogether with an example, suppose a male athlete is squatting 400 pounds (the stressor), the heaviest he has ever lifted. As the athlete prepares to perform the lift, he begins to feel apprehension, because he has never lifted this much before, and as an athlete, improving his lifts are clearly important to him (this would be the perception; notice how it is based on task importance). In response to his apprehension, his heart rate and respiration begins to rise (acute adaptations, in response to a perceived threat). The athlete then performs the lift successfully, for 4 reps. During the subsequent training session, he finds that he can perform 8 reps with the same weight (a chronic beneficial adaptation). This example typifies the stress response.

Keeping these 4 elements of stress in mind, this paper will begin its discussion on the definitions of stress with the father of stress, Hans Selye.

During his days as a Hungarian scientist, Selye observed that his patients with diseases had many similar symptoms, regardless of the infection. These include a loss of appetite, inflamed tonsils, and pain. In this context, Selye suggested that sickness could be studied in general, rather than specific to the disease itself (McEwen, 2002).

To test his hypothesis, he examined the effects of various stressors such as toxins and sudden changes in temperature on rats. He observed that every stressor caused a similar response, suggesting that the body had a general mechanism to cope with stressors. This lead him to define stress as the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it to adapt, whether that demand produces pleasure or pain. Based on the general nature of stress, he developed the infamous General Adaptation Theory. This theory suggests that stress is composed of three phases: alarm reaction, stage of resistance, and stage of exhaustion. During alarm reaction, the introduction of a stressor leads to a decrease in performance. Following this is the stage of resistance, in which the organism’s defense mechanisms fight to gain resistance. This is known as adaptation and is characterized by elevated levels of homeostasis. Lastly, if the stimulus is continuous then the individual would plateau or experience maladaptation. The maladaptation according to Seyle reflected similar symptoms to the Alarm reaction stage, and was the result of a depletion of the organisms defense mechanisms caused by chronic stress (Wilson, 2006).

Seyle suggested that stress could be further broken down into two elements—distress and eustress. Distress was the damaging effects caused by stress, and could result in a decline in performance for athletes, or promote pathogenesis (diseases). Eustress was the advantageous effects of stress, and promoted growth and development.

Another pioneer in the study of stress was Walter Cannon (1930’s). Cannon discussed the body’s tendency to keep itself within narrow tolerance limits necessary to sustain life (homeostasis). In the presence of a stressor that would cause an imbalance in homeostasis, Cannon suggested that the body responds in a stereotypical pattern of psycho physiological reactions to prepare to meet a survival threat (the stress response). He further posited that this response involved the famous fight or flight response, which initiated various adaptations such as shutting down digestion, tensing muscles, and piloerrection (hair stands up), all of which would activate the system so that it could handle the perceived or experienced stressor.

McGrath (1970) suggested that stress is the perceived imbalance between demands and response capabilities when failure to meet the demands is deemed important. This definition focused on the psychological state which triggered the stress response.

Building on the work of McGrath, Martin (as reported by Simmons, 2006) suggested that stress could be defined as uncertainty * importance.

More recently, Inouye (2005) suggested that stress is anything that causes the body to adapt.

All of these definitions of stress are helpful in understanding the stress response; yet, the current author does not believe any of them by themselves adequately defines stress. Therefore, the current author suggests that an integration of these definitions is needed to properly define stress.

In this context, Gabriel Wilson (2006) suggests that stress can be defined as the perceived or experienced imbalance between demands and response capabilities when failure to meet the demands is deemed important, or results in a disturbance in homeostasis. Typically, it must be inferred from acute or chronic adaptations or maladaptations.

This definition clarifies on several points. It discusses the impact of a stressor (or demand); both physiological (homeostasis and experience) and psychological (perception) responses to stress; acute and chronic adaptations of the stress response; and the positive or negative effects of stress. It also suggests that stress is a hypothetical construct that cannot be directly observed, but rather must be inferred based on acute or chronic adaptations or maladaptations.
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Matthew 7:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:06 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?

This is a very insightful thread!
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