1. Stress: tension resulting from changes in the internal or external environment; either physiologic, psychologic, or social
  2. Stressors: agents or forces threatening an individual's ability to meet his or her needs
  3. Adaptation: an individual's (or the body's) reaction to and attempt to deal with stress

General Characteristics

  1. A certain amount of stress is necessary for life and growth, but excessive and continuous stress can be detrimental.
  2. Success of adaptation depends on perception of stressor(s), the individual's coping mechanisms, and biologic adaptive resources.
  3. Types of stressors: physical, chemical, microbiologic, psychologic, social.

General Adaptation Syndrome (Hans Selye)

Response to Stress

  1. Caused by release of certain adaptive hormones
  2. Three Stages
    1. Alarm Reaction
      1. Sympathetic nervous system is activated (fight-or-flight response)
      2. Results in increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respirations; dilated pupils; increased state of alertness; increased blood sugar and coagulability; increased tension of skeletal muscles
    2. Resistance: body adapts to stressor; uses physical, physiologic, and psychologic coping mechanisms.
    3. Exhaustion: adaptive resources are depleted, overwhelmed, or insufficient; if stress is excessive and continues, death will occur without support.

Stress Management/Nursing Responsibilities

  1. Instruct the client concerning ways to manage stress
    1. Eat a well-balanced diet.
    2. Get sufficient amount of rest.
    3. Exercise regularly.
    4. Use relaxation methods and techniques: e.g., deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, relaxation response, meditation, yoga, biofeedback.
    5. Engage in a social support system.