Stress and Coping

Sally is a hardworking young professional who was applauded for her work performance and given more responsibility. After a few months there is a rapid decline in her productivity and she is seen withdrawing from work. Sally’s new manager constantly criticizes her for her lack of productivity, which makes her performance worse, and causes her more worry.

Does this represent chronic or acute stress? This represents chronic stress. Chronic stress is stressor that has no end in sight, and is significant. In this situation, Sally’s manager is a stressor, due to the constant criticism of her work.

What type of response might the body and brain be experiencing to manage the stressor?

“Stress can cause psychosomatic diseases, such as ulcers, asthma, high blood pressure, stomach infections, hives, and arthritis. Some less severe psychosomatic conditions are headaches, stomachaches, backaches, indigestion, constipation, insomnia, and so on” (Argosy 2014) .

What would be the goal for coping with this stress? (eliminate, reduce, tolerate)

The goal for coping with this stress would be to evaluate the stressor, reduce the stressor as much as possible, and learn to tolerate the stressor by changing how you react to the stressor. For Sally, her first goal would be to understand why he situation stresses her so much. This can be done by talking about the stressor with friends or family, or a professional. This first step will also give Sally the chance to create her support system. Once she has her support system in place, and understands why the situation stresses her, she can work on reducing some of that stress. For instance, she may look at her schedule and realize she is trying to do to many things at once. She can see what projects need the most work, which are due soonest, and organize her time efficiently to allow for less stress and more production. She can also see which projects require the work of more than one person, and ask for assistance from a co-worker. Once she calms down and learns to reduce her stress, she can work on how to tolerate the remaining amount of stress, by altering how she reacts to it.

What type of coping strategy should be implemented—emotion-focused coping or problem-directed coping? How would the individual employ this approach? In other words, using this type of coping strategy, what could he or she do to cope with the stressor? Give 2 examples.

Sally should implement both an emotion-focused and problem-directed coping strategy. I would start by employing the emotion-focused coping strategy. First I would seek support from friends and family. I would let all my pent-up frustrations out to them. Once my frustrations are out, I would ask them for assistance in how to best approach my manager with my concerns. Finally, I would approach my manager with my concerns, and explain how the criticism makes me feel. I would then ask my manager to be open to any requests I may have, in the future, regarding my workload, such as assistance from another coworker to make sure a big project gets done on time. Once the emotional aspect of my stressor is solved, I would work on the problem-directed strategy. For this strategy I would identify my problem, evaluate it, decide how to handle it, then make a plan and put it into action. I would then evaluate how effective my plan is, and whether it needs any tweaking to be more effective. In Sally’s situation, I would determine whether my workload feels overwhelming due to lack of organization or due to lack of help. If lack of organization is the problem, then I would figure the best way to organize my time so that everything is done properly, without becoming overwhelming. If the problem is lack of assistance, then I would ask the manager to have a coworker help me on projects that require more than one person to get done.

Write 2 “coping self-statements” the individual might make in response to this stressor. You will find some examples of coping self-statements in your textbook.

“Keep focused on the present; what is it I have to do?”

“It’s not the worst thing that can happen.”

What are some of the potential long-term impacts on this individual’s health if he or she does not find a way to cope with this stressor?

“Chronic stress, or a constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, can contribute to long-term problems for heart and blood vessels. The consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate, and the elevated levels of stress hormones and of blood pressure, can take a toll on the body. This long-term ongoing stress can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke” (


Argosy University Online. (2014). General Psychology: Module 2: Stress and Health from

Gerrig, R. J. (03/2012). Psychology and Life, 20th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from

Stress Effects on the Body. (2016). Retrieved from