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Eustress and Distress: Reactivation

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Jan Felicjan Terelak

The author of the book provides a comprehensive examination of stress, an integral part of people’s lives. In the first chapter, he reviews the 20th-century theories of stress, from biological mechanisms of stress through medical concepts to contemporary models of psychological stress. The second chapter provides a detailed classification of sources of stress, based on physical, chronobiological, psychological and social factors. In the third chapter, the author focuses on reactions to stress and presents them from physiological, emotional, cognitive and behavioral perspectives. The fourth chapter focuses on two theoretical constructs: resistance to stress and coping with stress. The author presents task-oriented, emotion-oriented and avoidance-oriented strategies of coping with stress and underlines the role of social support in dealing with stress.

The author emphasizes the fact that stress has many faces. It can be seen as "eustress", which has an important motivational function, forcing us to make efforts and achieve life goals, or "distress", which distracts us from achieving our goals and comfort of life.

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4 Coping with stress

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Resistance to stress is a theoretical construct that is not only controversial but also difficult to define unambiguously. To avoid misunderstandings, it is important to remember the terminological explanations and theoretical differences in identifying the essence of stress that have been detailed in the previous chapters of this book. The source literature features some motions to define this construct by connotational distinction between: stress resistance, the behavioral index of which can be e.g. relatively low emotional reactivity as an inborn feature of the subject, and stress resistance as a feature acquired in the course of life, the psychological index of which is e.g. the acquired ability of organized functioning despite emotional stimulation. Both connotations are complementary as they focus on the one hand on the sources of stress resistance (emotional reactivity), and on the other on the ways of coping with stress. We consider these aspects jointly as components of a broader concept of stress resistance. This term was popularized in psychological literature years ago as a carbon copy of the biological concept of stress resistance. It should be remembered, however, that in the field of psychology it functions as an analogy of the concept of immunology. Therefore, its original and proper meaning should be recalled. (O’Driscoll, 2013).

4.1 Theoretical status of the concept of stress resistance

The concept of resistance derived from immunology refers to the inability of an organism to be exposed to pathogenic microorganisms or their venom (toxins). In a broader...

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