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Resistance Stage of Stress: Overview

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  • 0:00 Resisting the Breaking Point
  • 0:26 Stages of Stress
  • 1:16 What Causes Resistance?
  • 2:03 The Dangers of…
  • 3:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stephanie Foley

Stephanie has a BA & MA iin psychology and has taught for 13 years.

Resistance stress occurs when moderate strain affects a person's life continuously for weeks. Researched by Hans Selye in the 1930's, stress is your body's response to demands from the environment. Resistance is the second stage of stress.

Resisting the Breaking Point

Imagine a branch from a tree. Take one end in your right hand, the other end in your left hand, and begin to bend it. The force from your hands is stress, a demand made upon the branch, in this case, to bend before breaking. According to Hans Selye, the bending of the branch is resistance, which occurs before the eventual snap.

Stages of Stress

Stage one, of Selye's three stages of the stress response, is known as alarm, or fight or flight. It is that brief adrenaline rush we get when threatened. It causes racing heartbeats, sweating, increased breath, and a greater blood flow to the arms and legs.

After this initial response comes stage two resistance, and if a stressful situation extends beyond two to four weeks, our bodies begin to pay a heavy price by trying to keep up with the demands. Similar to alarm stress, resistance stress keeps blood pressure and hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, higher than normal, but not quite as high. If we do not find some way of easing our load or coping with the stressor, we end up in the third stage of stress, known as exhaustion.

What Causes Resistance?

Students are ripe candidates for resistance stress. Studying for finals, writing papers, reading textbooks until you're cross-eyed, being sleep deprived, and not eating well, all put you into resistance. Employees working long hours on tight deadlines, and even runners conditioning themselves by exercising for weeks before the big race, can also fall prey to resistance stress. Men and women newly entering the military can feel the effects of resistance from their training demands.

Positive events, such as weddings, births, and upcoming vacation planning, can also generate the levels of work that can cause resistance stress. People can work so hard to prepare for these events that they become overwhelmed, tired, and pressed for time to accomplish all their responsibilities.

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