Za miesiąc koniec roku szkolnego, a więc lato! Wraz z nim powoli zaczynamy tworzyć nowy numer szkolnego periodyku w języku angielskim, AimHigh. To będzie numer 67, a inauguruje go tekst Anieli Przystał (klasa 1b), która w swoim ciekawym artykule prezentuje postać kanadyjskiego psychologa, Hansa Seyle, który swoją pracę badawczą poświęcił zagadneniu stresu. Zapraszamy do lektury!


The Nature of Stress

In 1956, Canadian physician Hans Selye started publishing the results of his research on of stress. Selye noted that many environmental factors – heat, cold, pain, viruses and so on – throw the body out of balance, forcing it to respond in a certain way. These factors, called „stressors”, include anything that requires the body to mobilize its resources. The body responds to a stressor with an orchestrated set of physical and chemical changes, which prepare the subject to fight or flee. To Selye stress consisted of the package of reactions, which he called the General Adaptation Syndrome.

The general adaptation syndrome has three phases:

  • In the alarm phase, the organism mobilizes to confront the threat.
  • In the phase of resistance, the organism attempts to resist or cope with a threat that continues and cannot be avoided.
  • If the stressor persists, it may overwhelm the body’s resources. Depleted of energy, the body enters the phase of exhaustion, becoming vulnerable to tiredness, physical problems and eventually illness.

Stress is a bane of modern civilization because our physiological alarm mechanism now turns itself on too often. For example, the typical stressor today is an enormous  traffic jam. When your teacher announces that you will have an unexpected exam, your body will break sweat to dispose of the  excess of the body heat.

However, not at all stress is bad. Some stress, which Selye called eustress, is positive and feels good, even if it also requires the body to produce short-term energy, for example, competing in an athletic event, falling in love, working hard on a project you enjoy. Selye did not believe that all stress could be avoided or that people should aim for a stress-free life, which is an impossible goal. The target is to minimize it, not get rid of.

Selye recognized that psychological stressors (such as emotional conflict or sadness) can be as important as physical stressors (such as heat or noise). He also observed that some factors mediate between the stressor and the stress. Selye concentrated on the biological responses that result from a person’s attempt to adept to environmental demands. He defined a stressor as any event that produces the stress.

Later studies have found that stress is not a purely biological condition that can lead directly to illness. An event that is stressful for one person may be challenging for another and nothing special for the third. Losing a job or having too much work to do is stressful to some people and not to others. Not all individuals who are under stress behave in the same way, so not all get ill.

Aniela Przystał (1b)