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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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The book’s title alludes to the 50th anniversary of the Polish translation of Hans Selye’s book entitled The Stress of Life. The earliest knowledge on the topic of stress can be found in the ancient philosophy and medicine where stress was understood in the three following ways, as load (i.e. external pressure), stress (i.e. internal reaction to external pressure) and strain (i.e. disorder or deformation of the subject). In essence, these three notions are just different aspects of the same phenomenon that is commonly referred to as “stress”. The last of the above-mentioned aspects is described in Chapter 1 that reviews theories of stress of the 20th century, from biological mechanisms of stress, through medical concepts to contemporary models of psychological stress. This review ends with conclusions that refer to the views of Claude Bernard – a famous French biologist. He stated that a successful management of one’s own stress on the cellular level can be regarded as “life wisdom”, since unsuccessful management of stress, which is an inherent part of our lives, is paid for by a decrease in or loss of our well-being and/or health. Bernard created the law of “conservation of internal milieu” and put an emphasis on an important existential fact that cells of multicellular organisms conserve their internal milieu despite threats from the external environment. This conservation is attained by physiological and biochemical processes of the organism. Bernard’s concept was further developed by Walter B. Cannon – an American physiologist who created the theory of...

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