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Methods of measuring stress and their effectiveness

Firstly introduced by Hans Selye (1950), the word stress is more used to describe an individual's status of stress which is often viewed as being related to modern life. However, stress analysis is manufactured using different method which include:

Self report

Biomedical

Physiological

Self survey: Life happenings (Holmes and Rahe 1976)

The most typical way of assessing stress is by self-report questionnaires, where individuals answer questions about their mental or physical status. Because of this, two physicians, Holmes and Rahe (1976) suggested that major life occurrences, whether good or bad, were probably demanding. Holmes and Rahe were the first ever to record the effects of life occasions in a systematic way. By their research, they observed that patients often experienced several life occurrences in the calendar months before the starting point of illness, and for that reason, these life occurrences appeared to be associated with illness and stress. They recommended that, stress is brought on by change that can result in greater susceptibility to physical and mental health disorders. They confirmed the organizations between life occurrences, stress and health problems by producing some approach to measuring life occurrences. Accordingly, they put together the ''Public Readjustment Rating Scale'' (SRRS) by evaluating 5000 patient information and making a set of 43 life events both positive and negative that seemed to precede illness. Roughly 400 individuals were involved in the rating of every item in conditions of the quantity of stress produced, out which 500 was assigned to marriage as a guide point. The averaged results were then divided by 10 to get a measure of the average person events in terms of life change items (LCU).

An exemplory case of Social Readjustment Ranking Scale (SRRS)

LIFE EVENTS

Rank

Life Event

Stress Value

1

Death of a spouse

100

2

Divorce

73

3

Marital separation

65

4

Jail term

63

5

Death of any close family member

63

6

Personal harm or illness

53

7

Marriage

50

8

Fired at work

47

9

Marital reconciliation

45

10

Retirement

45

13

Sex difficulties

39

23

Son or little girl leaving

29

38

Change in sleeping habits

16

40

Change in eating habits

15

41

Vacation

13

42

Christmas

12

43

Minor violations of the law

law

11

Reference

Adapted from Holmes, T. , & Rahe, R. (1967). The communal readjustment rating level. Journal of psychosomatic research, 11, 213-218.

Doctors, Holmes and Rahe (1967) results suggested that the stress of life happenings is correlated with physical health problems; hence experiencing life situations increases the chances of stress-related health breakdown. They were however criticised for being bias by looking into only American men and only using correlational methods.

 

Assessing the potency of the ''Do it yourself article'' as a method of stress measurement

The SRRS supplies the basis for possibly the most energetic current part of stress research and also retrospective investigation using either the SRRS or SRE (Schedule of Recent Experience) have exhibited a linear romance between mounting life change, cardiac fatality, damages, diabetes, leukaemia and infectious disease (Holmes& Masuda, 1974).

Using the study questionnaire, Holmes & Rahe (1950) tested various sub-groups to see if the scores were consistent, e. g. male and female, single and wedded and so forth. As there is strong agreement between different categories, it felt that the SRRS was a valid solution for all sorts of people no matter their backgrounds. This contributes to the effectiveness of the self article approach to stress way of measuring.

This SRRS questionnaire (Holmes and Rahe, 1976) has offered as a well-known tool for calculating the amount of stress one has experienced within the past season. Taking the test can help one see clearly if they're at risk of illness anticipated to stress.

The method provided some of the first research that there surely is a genuine relationship between stressful lifestyle events and physical condition.

Also, the fact that physical health was evaluated after life incidents escalates the chances that life occurrences were assisting to cause problems with physical health, as opposed to the other way round

The Community Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) and the research associated with it stand for a major breakthrough, it is because, it is now generally accepted that life happenings of various types can influence our internal well-being and our physical and mental health.

The development of the SRRS has managed to get easier to perform research to check these ideas. This in turn has resulted in a clearer knowledge of the ways that life events influence us.

Indirect research that stressful lifestyle events play a role in life intimidating diseases was reported by Selye, Tache and Day (1979). According to these experts, cancer was more prevalent among adults who divorced, widowed or segregated than among those who were married. The probably explanation is the fact that, those who weren't married were stressed because of insufficient social support. It is however hard to establish causal connections from such data (SSRS data). Perhaps those who have been divorced or segregated were more susceptible to stress than those who have been hitched; hence, this stress vulnerability played out a job in the collapse of these marriages

One of the limitations to the method is that, it has often been assumed that almost any serious life can help to produce any kind of illness. It has led to a relative ignoring of more specific results. Supporting evidence to the result was where, two men, Finlay -Jones and Brown (1981) found that troubled patients were much more likely than despondent patients to have observed threat events(involving future threats), whereas despondent patients were much more likely to have experienced loss occasions (involving earlier loses). More research into such studies will however be useful.

Another negative side of the SRRS is that, lots of studies show that people's illness rates increase following increase rates in stress results. However, a number of items on the size are hazy e. g. 'personal personal injury or health issues' appears to claim that someone may have the same stress rating for flu and cancer tumor. Second, there is no general inability to consider the impact of a meeting on an individual. Christmas is known as to be a mildly nerve-racking event, yet for some people, Christmas may appear extremely stressful, as it may focus on their loneliness.

The SRRS has face validity because lots of the events listed are easily recognisable as stressful events. The ideals Allocated to each stress event have been carefully computed from data provided by the views of many people. The survey form can be filled out easily and quickly.

With mention of Raphael et al. (1991), Self-report steps of life occurrences are unreliable. A study had subjects complete a range regarding life occasions they experienced through the prior time. The things then filled out the same Questionnaire on a monthly basis for annually. Towards the end of the entire year the reports were quite not the same as the ones made at the beginning of the year (Raphael, et al. 1991). The questionnaire or level also ignores long-term strains such as money problems, general complications etc. Taking this into account, the strategy could be looked at invalid.

Biomedical: Stress and ulcers (Brady 1958)

One of the biomedical methods of measuring stress is the data that stress may be a causal element in tummy ulcers. This research was first identified by Joseph Brady (1958). Brady do classic studies linking high degrees of stress to increased hormone production and the development of ulcers. Brady does this by placing monkeys in ''restraining chair'' and conditioned these to press a lever. The monkeys were then given shocks every 20 moments unless the lever was pressed during the same time. This test however came to the abrupt halt when unexpectedly lots of the monkeys passed away because of ulcers brought on by raised gastrointestinal hormone levels. The question put forward was if the ulcers resulted from the electric shock or the strain. To improve his results, Brady and his mates used yoked handles where one monkey called ''professional'' was liable for handling the lever while a second monkey received the shocks but acquired no control over the lever. Thus, only the ''exec'' monkey experienced the physiological stress of experiencing to press the lever, but both animals received shocks. After 23 days and nights of 6 time on and off schedule, the exec monkey passed on because of perforated ulcer. Brady primarily thought that the stress might be related to the support plan. He also attempted several other routines such as 18 hours on and 6 hours off and tested the professional monkey to discover that stomach acidity was very best during this time period.

After the experiment, Brady concluded that it was plainly stress, not the shocks that created the ulcers. Having said that, he also figured the greatest danger happened as the sympathetic arousal quit and the abdominal was flooded with intestinal hormones, which really is a parasympathetic rebound linked with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, hence HPA.

Assessing the potency of the ''biomedical '' as a method of stress measurement

The research completed by Brady (1958) proved effectively that stress may be a causal factor in stomach ulcers. Stress often increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid solution, which takes on in the development of some ulcers. Stress also weakens the defences of the gastrointestinal tract against this acid, in so doing permitting gastric ulcers to build up. (Pinel, 1997).

Supporting research to the potency of Brady's test is Weiner et al. (1957) conclusions in support to Brady's experiment. Weiner et al. (1957) used military recruits to check for the potency of Brady's experiment. Ahead of basic training, the soldiers were analyzed and classed based on their release of digestive enzymes as over-secretors or under -secretors. After four a few months of tense training, 14% of the over-secretors had developed ulcers, whereas none of the under-secretors had. This suggests not only that the same guidelines connect with humans, but also that each differences may be important in view of the fact that not absolutely all of the over-secretors developed ulcers.

Biochemical method of measuring stress requires adrenaline and noradrenalin hormones. These hormones provides effective methods of stress

The research also suggested that too much stress at work can lead to development of ulcers.

Brady's experiment was however criticised for not arbitrarily selecting the monkeys and also, using non-human samples

Subsequent research in addition has proven that ulcers are not always stress related, there could be an underlying biological cause. E. g. fungi

Brady's experiment is from the Hypothalamic -Pituitary-Adrenocortical Axis, this in effect elevates degrees of glucose plus some hormones like the ACTH (Acetylcholine) and the body continues to use its resources at an accelerating rate.

Stress-triggered boosts in heartrate and blood pressure. This may cause the deterioration and blocking of arteries in doing so increasing cardiovascular disorders and serious stress.

Many physical, organisational and sociable factors in the workplace can become resources of stress, usually exerting a relatively long-term, steady and chronic impact. Work overload, insufficient control, and poor interpersonal relations at the job may all lead distress, ill health insurance and eventual burnout. Hence, ''biomedical'' assists as the right method for assessing stress at a work place

Physiological: Biofeedback

Physiological actions in stress provide signs of the amount of sympathetic anxious arousal. This can include a person's heartrate, blood circulation pressure, and respiration rate etc. Among the common physiological methods found in calculating stress is ''biofeedback''.

Biofeedback is a method which involves saving the experience of the physiological systems of your body's stress response, that is the heart rate, blood circulation pressure or stress in the throat muscles. This allows the individual to monitor their own physiological arousal in real times and develop control over it (Gatchel, 1997). During the process, the average person is fastened is mounted on a machine which produces feedback about some physiological activity such as an auditory or aesthetic signal to indicate whether his / her heartrate is too high or moderate. The individual is also trained in ways to reduce physiological aspects of stress such as relaxation training. Among the common ways humans can figure out how to control their brain-waves is by using electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

An EEG involves inserting electrodes on a person's scalp to track record the small changes in electro-mechanical activity of the mind. These changes are displayed on a computer screen. EEGs can be used to measure changes in brain activity during different stages of sleep; however, in biofeedback EEG is utilized to give visual feedback of the experience of the waking brain. Biofeedback training however consists of three phases, they include:

Developing an awareness of this physiological response including the heart rate

Learning means of managing that physiological response in peaceful conditions. This can include providing rewards for successful control in addition to no feedback

Transferring that control into the conditions of each day life.

Assessing the potency of biofeedback as a way of measuring stress

This method has been effective in significant long-term reductions in stress in everyday activities and in addition has resulted in benefits by producing a sense of control rather than purely emotional methods. Attanasio et al (1985) explored and found that biofeedback helped young adults and children with stress related disorders to get control over the symptoms of migraine headaches. The procedure was however criticised which it treated symptoms alternatively than root conditions.

Biofeedback has liked a brief surge of level of popularity since its inception in the later 1960's. It offers successfully cared for many medical problems, specifically stress related diseases such as incontinence, stress, hypertension, circulatory problems, irritable bowel syndrome and so forth.

Since its inception, they have produced significant permanent reductions in stress in everyday life without any area results unlike the other physiological approach (drugs)

Biofeedback can lead to benefits by producing a sense of control somewhat than purely mental health methods. It is however not invasive, but instead voluntary.

Arguably, the benefits associated with biofeedback could be gained from another rest technique therefore biofeedback can be an unnecessary expenditure. This acts as a limitation to biofeedback as a way of measuring stress.

Recommendation of 1 way of stress measurement for use by the company

Above all these methods of calculating stress, I am going to recommend ''life occurrences'' which comes under ''self applied report'' since it is by this way that the average person can fully express his/her feelings and pain through subjective questionnaire about their mental and physical condition.

Criteria 3. 1

Physiological approach to stress management and control

Stress control and management is the attempt that is made to cope with stress through reduction of the of the stress response. There are lots of approaches to minimizing a person's stress levels, but usually, it is targeted at the physiological and mental health ramifications of stress. The essential aim for for stress management is usually based on changing the individual's belief of the stressor.

Physiological methods to stress management are techniques that make an effort to control your body's respond to stress by lowering physiological activity. The physiological the different parts of stress can include physiological arousal, sleep disruption, fatigue, gastrointestinal disruptions, headaches, attentiveness problems, increased expression of irritability and anger, agitation, increased possibility for illness, and reduced efficiency. The impact and the expression of these stress symptoms differ with the average person and the tense event. Two physiological methods for handling stress include biofeedback and stress. However, I will examine one out both of these, which is Anti-anxiety drugs approach.

Anti-anxiety drugs

Anti-anxiety drugs are medicines that are being used calming and calming severe stress situations. They can also be used to relaxed nervousness, tension or for specific phobia disorder. The human body produces chemicals such as human hormones and neurotransmitters that create anxiety, which is often countered using other chemical substances such as drugs that reduce nervousness. There will vary types of anti- anxiousness that sort out different mechanisms. The most common drugs are:

Beta-blockers

Benzodiazepines

Alcohol (almost never used)

Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers are one of the drugs used control stress by reducing activity in the sympathetic stressed system. They have a primary action on the heart and soul and circulatory system hence; they decrease the heartrate and lower peripheral blood pressure. Their effects are on the body however, they do not have direct effects on brain activity. Lau et al. (1992) considered the conclusions from numerous studies in a meta-analysis hence combining data from several studies. Thus, beta-blockers have turned out useful in reducing blood pressure and in treating patients with heart disease. Psychological research also concludes that, the drug reduced the chance of death by about 20% in patients experiencing heart disease. It also boosts performance in musicians and public audio speakers (Taylor 1995). However, one downside of beta-blockers is the fact, they aim for symptoms rather than causes of anxiety and stress hence providing only momentary improvement.

Benzodiazepines

Sometimes when drugs are used, they elapse in natural operations by handling the action of neurotransmitters. Types of benzodiazepines include ''Valium'' and Librium which are used for increasing the neurotransmitter GABA, which decreases serotonin activity, which eventually reduces arousal. Benzodiazepines are extremely effective and used worldwide by roughly hundred million people. Despite its success, benzodiazepines have got some side results which are linked to low levels of serotonin. Common results can include drowsiness, leading to of cognitive and memory impairments, feelings of melancholy, and interacting unpredictably with alcoholic beverages Ashton (1997). Another effect of the drug is the fact that, it is more likely to be engaged with accident.

Strengths of Anti-anxiety drugs

Anti-anxiety drugs can be very effective in managing severe thoughts of stress. Beta blockers for occasion take action on the autonomic nervous system to lessen heart rate/blood pressure physiological stress arousal.

Anti-depressant drugs, less often used, can be appropriate for severe anxiety

Benzodiazepines such as Valium improve the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the mind.

Anti-anxiety drugs decrease arousal and relax your body by reducing tension in the muscles. Since stress response will involve high arousal, tranquillizers may sometimes reduce stress

Weaknesses of Anti-anxiety drugs

Anti-anxiety drugs like benzodiazepines work by lowering brain activity. While this briefly relieves anxiety, additionally, it may lead to unwanted side effects.

The higher the medication dosage, the greater pronounced these side results typically are. But some individuals feel sleepy, foggy, and uncoordinated even on low doses of benzodiazepines, which can cause problems with work, college, or each day activities such as driving. Some even feel a medication hangover the very next day.

Because benzodiazepines are metabolized slowly but surely, the medication can build-up in the torso when used over longer periods of time. The result has ended sedation. People who are over sedated may appear to be they're drunk.

Anxyolitic drugs can cause internal and physical dependence, tolerance and dependency.

Psychological method of stress management and control

Psychological method of stress control and management are the techniques that make an effort to control the cognitive, interpersonal, and emotional replies to stress. They do this by responding to the underlying reason behind stress such as defective thinking. This approach functions by changing the individuals conception of the stressor and increasing their understanding control. One mental health method of stress control and management is the cognitive-behavioral remedy.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral remedy to managing stress is based on the cognitive appraisal explanation of stress and seeks to change someone's perceptions and thoughts relating to, and dealing with demanding disorders. This therapy is appropriate for dealing with stress hence the assumption behind the cognitive way is that, it's the way one considers the situation that is maladaptive. Thus, if an individual can learn to reorganize their thinking and self-beliefs, the underlying problem itself may simply go away. This approach to handling stress entails: stress inoculation training and hardiness training.

Stress inoculation training

Stress inoculation training (SIT): Unlike many cognitive solutions, stress inoculation training (SIT) is a far more problem-focused coping strategy. It was produced by Donald Meichenbaum (1977, 1985) and the essential idea was to prepare individuals to handle potential stressors. Matching to Meichenbaum (1985), the ultimate way to cope with ''stressors'' is to go on the offensive and try to pre-empt them. People should try to anticipate sources of stress and have effective coping strategies ready to set up. Meichenbaum (1985) explains SIT as:

"Analogous to the concept of medical inoculation against infectious diseases It really is made to build 'emotional antibodies' or coping skills, also to enhance resistance through exposure to stimuli that are strong enough to arouse defences without being so powerful concerning conquer them. " (Meichenbaum 1985)

There are three main stages in stress inoculation training:

1. Evaluation: with this training, the therapists discuss the type of the condition with the individual, and solicit the individual's conception of how to eliminate it. Meichenbaum (1985) considers this romance to be very important as it provides the 'glue' which allows the various aspects of the remedy to work together.

2. Stress lowering techniques: the individual learns various techniques for reducing stress, such as rest and self instructional training, communication, assertion, problem resolving, anger control, parenting, analysis skills and using sociable support by using coping self applied statements.

3. Request and follow through: On this final phase, the individual imagines using the strain reduction techniques learned in the second period in difficult situations and engages in role play of such situations with the therapists, before using the techniques in a genuine life situations.

Strengths of stress inoculation training

One important power of Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) is the fact that, it's very flexible. It is because, it involves a wide variety of cognitive and behavioural techniques tailored to the individual needs of the client, that can be used to deal with many types of stressor (e. g. , time-limited/persistent, controllable/uncontrollable, predictable/unstable, current/in days gone by).

It has been found to reach your goals in helping people package with the stress of persistent pain, performance stress, specific phobias and work related stress (Meichenbaum, 1977, 1985). This training in addition has helped athletes offer with the strain of competition (Mace, Eastmen & Carroll, 1986) and assisting patients prepare for surgery (Langer, Janis & Wolfer, 1975).

Weakness of stress inoculation training

Stress inoculation training is however of less value when treating those who are highly pressured or subjected to very difficult situations. Most individuals are different in how easy they think it is to make use of coping self statements in demanding situations.

Hardiness training

Over these years, much research into stress has shown that we now have significant individual distinctions in the way that people react to stress. Since some individuals seem to cope much better than others do, it makes sense to attempt to isolate the reasons why they can achieve this task. The hope is that more effective ways of coping can be offered to help those who find themselves not as well prepared. Suzanne Kobasa (1986) has recognized such individuals, who she explains as hardy, as those whose cognitive strategies are better suited to coping with stress. For instance, they can be more able to identify the symptoms of stress hence steering clear of action can be studied in time. They make more reasonable assessments of stressors, including being aware of the positive aspects of nerve-racking situations, opportunities and new obstacles. Kobasa shows that hardiness can be improved upon with appropriate training. Her programme contains three techniques:

1. Centering: This talks about that you need to give attention to the physical indications of stress and beware when further attention is necessary.

2. Reconstructing stress situations: This system the individual to think about recent stressful situations and notice how it might have proved both better and worse, hence becoming aware that things might have been worse enables someone to feel more positive.

3. Reimbursement through self-improvement: If a person is affected with a stressor that can't be changed or avoided, then it could be helpful to undertake another challenge that can be mastered. Consequently, this ensures you that you can expect.

Strengths of hardiness training

There is little direct research facts on the potency of hardiness training and what research there exists, however, Fischman educated a small amount of professionals these strategies plus they had greater job satisfaction, fewer head aches, and better rest patterns

Weaknesses of hardiness training

Reports were made that individuals who have adopted this kind of program do rating higher on the test of hardiness, survey feeling less anxious, and have lower blood pressure than before, Sarafino (1990).

The study was done on a small scale and there is no follow-up, so results might have been due to increased attention and communication only

Summary

Both Meichenbaum (1985) and Kobasa's(1986) methods to stress management place great focus on the individual getting control of a nerve-racking situation because it is more often the sensation to be 'out of control' that requires a situation beyond a person's ability to cope.

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