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Lesson One: What Is Stress?



1. To introduce what stress is.

2. To introduce causes of stress.

3. To teach relaxation technique - stretching exercise.


Teacher begins the class by describing to the students the following picture. "You are walking down a dark alley at night, all alone,

and you forget your glasses. On the half way, you spot a big figure carrying a club and straddling your path. What do you

feel?" When we encounter a threat, our heart beats faster and our body prepares itself to handle the situation either stand ground and

fight or run away. Walter Cannon described this as the "fight-or-flight response", which is our physiological response to stress.

McNerney (1974) stated that "stress is your body's physical, mental and chemical reactions to circumstances that frighten, exercise,

confuse, endanger or irritate you.(p.2)Hans Selye specified the changes in the body physiological that resulted from stress. In his

book "The Stress of Life", he summarized stress reactivity as a three-phase process which is called the general adaptation syndrome:

(1) Alarm Reaction

This is the first reaction when body deals with stress. There is intense mobilization of biochemical resources (a readiness and call-to-

arms of the body systems) on recognition of stressor. If the stressor is sufficiently strong,  death may result when the body resistance


(2) Stage of Resistance

Resistance ensues if continued exposure to the stressor is compatible with adaptation. The bodily signs characteristic of the alarm

reaction have virtually disappeared and resistance rises above normal. If we are continually exposed to stress, body resistance will

follow and make adaptation. Eventually, resistance rises above normal and the bodily signs of the alarm reaction disappear.

(3) Stage of Exhaustion

The body has adjusted to the stressor when we are exposed to prolonged stress. However, if the stressor is too strong, death may result.


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