Stress is a common yet often misunderstood, word in modern society. Psychologists have recently begun exploring the reasons why stress manifests differently, depending on the relationship between the person and the environment. The physiological and psychological affects stress can induce and the affects of environmental stressors, such as light, wind, and temperature are important concepts for psychologists to be aware of. To understand how environmental stressors affect people, one must first understand the concept of stress.
Concept of stressThe concept of stress is one, which psychologists have yet to agree upon one definitive definition. However, one acceptable definition comes from Tracy Woolrich, author of Practical Stress Reduction, (2004), "Stress is an unpleasant state of emotional and physiological arousal that people experience in situations that they perceive as dangerous or threatening to their well-being" (p. 16). Stress comes from the combination of a perceived stimulus and the arousal caused by the stimulus.
Should a person perceive a stimulus as threatening and place significant importance on the stimulus, the physiological reaction will be the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which initiates the fight or flight response. Should a person perceive a stimulus as insignificant or non-threatening, the person will experience little physiological arousal, and therefore, little stress. With a basic understanding of stress, one can now examine the types of arousal that influence physiological reactions.
Individuals use one of three types of appraisal to perceive and cope with stressors: harm or loss, threat, or challenge (Veitch & Arkellin, 1995). Harm or loss appraisal occurs when one has experienced damage, such as a natural disaster, or the loss of a loved one. Threat appraisals occur when a person faces future negative possibilities such as losing a job or moving away from home. Challenge appraisals are possibilities that may occur and are seen...