Health and Illness
“Discuss some of the ways that stressful experiences can be managed in order to reduce their impact on health and wellbeing”.
This essay will respond to the task set for TMA 03. I shall begin by providing some brief descriptions in order to be clear about what we mean when we talk about stress and stressful experiences. Following on, to discuss how stress might affect an individual’s health and wellbeing. To illustrate this, I shall discuss what is meant by health and wellbeing and the relationship between health behaviours and influences that determine health outcomes. I shall briefly outline some of the research into stress and health and how these follow a biomedical of health and social model of health approach in terms of understanding the impact on physical and emotional health.
Further, to discuss how different stressful experiences affect different people in terms of socio-economic status, environment and personal resources and how they cope or not in some cases. In addition, this essay will discuss some of the ways that stress can be managed in terms of building resilience and managing stress in order to reduce its impact on health and wellbeing.
Stress can be described as a common but complex phenomena (The Open University, 2013a). p55 It’s not easy to measure or explain exactly what it means but when talking about stress we are most likely talking about situations or events that put pressure on us. Being under pressure is normal for most people in the modern world. It can motivate individuals to feel more energised, perform better and reach goals. In contrast, if that pressure becomes too much, we can often feel we ‘can’t cope’ or feel ‘stressed’ and overwhelmed. These feelings, if not alleviated, could become problematic.
It is thought that stress may be experienced in two separate ways. Firstly, as a force acting upon the person, for example the stress of a job. Secondly, as a reaction to circumstances - a feeling of being stressed (The Open University, 2013b). p56 Both can affect our physical and mental health and also affect the way we behave. It is this link between stress and health that, although complex, health professional have been keen to explore. Many psychologists and researchers have tried to determine whether stress is the cause of the health problems or the result of them. Researchers Holmes and Rahe (1967), were the first to try and understand the impact of stress on health (The Open University, 2013c).p57
This research known as ‘life events research’ used quantitative methods measuring a 'stimulus response' to questions on the impact of the stressful event on physical health. A life event can described as a challenging time in a person’s life that resulted in a strong emotional response (The Open University, 2013d). p59 Depending on the severity, each event is ranked 0-100, with 100 being the most stressful event. The...