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Techniques of stress Management

Buffer Creation Social Support Interventions

Presented by Ajay Singh MA Final


When discussing the role of mood in the stress

process, it is posited that mood can play a dual role; a positive mood is of course a desirable and enjoyable outcome of effective stress reduction. Mood, however, can also play a buffering role in that a positive or negative mood state can exist at the emergence of a stressor and can play a moderating role in the stress process.

Irrespective of the type and threatening quality of a

stressor, the individual response magnitude is influenced by the current mood state such that exposure to preceding negative life events sets the stage for exaggerated responses to a new stressor, and that the presence of positive life events serves as a buffer for future stress responses. The case for the importance of efforts directed at creating positive mood states is supported via numerous studies.

Light and her colleagues (1999) have shown

prospectively that research participants with a family history of hypertension and high current life stress were more stress reactive than were those with low life stress, and over a long prospective study period were more likely to develop high blood pressure.
The positive buffering effects of positive life

events on blood pressure were stronger.

Physical exercise has been extensively

studied, and its physical benefits are well established. One pathway for the benefits of exercise is through the use of exercise as an arousal reduction technique that serves to buffer acute stress arousal. Of greatest interest for stress management is aerobic exercise a subtype that derives its name from the repetitive movement of large mussele groups that affect oxygen consumption patterns; aerobic exercise includes walking, running, swimming, and cycling.

Psychological changes can be equally brought about by

exercise that uses anaerobic metabolism for energy, including activities such as weight lifting. With respect to the psychological effects, there is consistent and replicated evidence that bouts of acute exercise and a maintained level of good fitness lead to psychological improvements as shown via decreased anxiety and depression, increased feelings of vigor, greater self-esteem and self-efficacy and better sleep.

Using a daily diary approach, Steptoe, Kimbell, and

Basford (1998) were able to show, within the same person, that positive mood were rated as more positive on exercise days then on nonexercise days, and events that had stress potential were considered less stressful on exercise days as well. These observations clearly strengthen the case for exercise as a stress buffer, in term of both physiology and subjective experience.

Restorative Environments
The field of environmental psychology has

taken an interest in the physical qualities of the environment that may contribute to raising (or lowering) subjective well-being and physiological arousal. This line of work has included comparisons of urban versus rural landscapes and blending of various colors and textures, with people routinely preferring and benefiting most form exposure to nature rather then urban life.

The ability to routinely spend at least some of

ones time in a natural, low-stimulus environment may represent a buffer from stress but could also be considered a physiological recovery strategy when a stressed individual actively seeks a restorative environment to spend time in. Many relaxing leisure time activities (walking ones dog in the park, retreating to the den to listen to classical music, or going for a long hike on a weekend) can be embedded in this restoration mode of thinking.

Optimistic Outlook
An effort was made to introduce the concept of

positive psychology where writers have made the case that a sense of coherence, spirituality, optimism, and resilience may serve to buffer against stress. There is a growing body of studies showing the benefits of positive psychological qualities.

Humor therapy
Laughter and the use of humor in general are universally

held to be positive behaviors and experiences that may lead to reduction of stress, promotion of good health, and enhanced quality of life. A sense of humor can make a person appear particularly likable and thus facilitate the building of friendships and support networks, and a good joke can serve as a welcome distraction in otherwise grim circumstances.

Humorous activities can be divided into passive

humor(like reading jokes in magazines or on the internet or renting funny videos) and active humor production (like writing a funny story, telling a good joke with the right emphasis, or playing a trick on a colleague). Obviously, it is easier to engage people in passive exposure to fun than it is to make them all-round funny people.

The expression laughter is the best medicine

has been around for centuries, but until recently there was no evidence to support this popular claim. When Norman Cousins(1979) in incorporated humor therapy into his treatment of ankylosing spondilytis, however, the medical world began to take notice of the healing power of humor and of the positive emotions associated with it.

Social Support Intervention

When it comes to understanding how the quality of social

exchanges can serve as a stress buffer or moderator, the support construct is subdivided into perceived support, received support, and reciprocal exchanges of support. Perceived support is quite distinct form network size because it reflects a subjective perception of available support that requires neither a factually large social network nor activation or receipt of support.

Further useful distinction of support activities evolve

from the nature of support provided, differentiating instrumental support. Esteem support Informational support
The seemingly most effective way of benefiting from

support is to live in a bidirectional support network where individuals both receive support and provide it to one another

This bi-directionality is likely advantageous because

(a)it stabilizes the mutual exchange structure (b)Gives emotional satisfaction and meaning to the provider himself or herself.

Commonly held critical features are structural aspects

of social network(e.g., the size of a persons social circle or the number of resources provided), functional aspects of social support (e.g., emotional support or a sense of acceptance), and enacted support (e.g., provision of specific supportive behaviors, such as reassurance or advice, in time of distress), as well as the subjective perception of support by the recipients .

When support is defined interpersonally, as an

exchange between providers and recipients, three main type of supportive social interactions emerge: emotional, informational, and instrumental. Emotional support involves verbal and nonverbal communication of caring and concern, and is believed to reduce distress by restoring self-esteem and permitting the expression of feeling.

Informational support, which involves the provision of

control by reducing confusion and providing patients with strategies to cope with their difficulties. Instrumental support involves the provision of material goods (e.g., transportation, money, or physical assistance), and may also help decrease feelings of loss of control. It can be readily seen form this description that support can play an acute and lasting buffering function in the stress response process.

Pet Ownership
Over the past decade or so a remarkably consistent

body of literature has emerged that shows the stress-reducing benefits of owning a pet. Acquiring a pet can be considered a special form of social support intervention in that pets provide esteem or emotional support and this rationale is easy to accept. A key feature of the pets supportive qualities is that the pet is loyal, nonjudgmental, and nondemanding.

The presence of pets has consistently been shown to

reduce acute arousal in demanding laboratory situations. In the great majority of studies where owners could bring their pets to the laboratory, the pets presence was associated with smaller physiological stress . responses than were seen in the presence of friends or a spouse or under a variety of control condition where participants were alone while performing a comparably demanding task.