Behavioral and Cognitive Dimensions of Stress

Stress can be manifested behaviorally and cognitively.

The increased arousal that results from our awareness of stress may interfere with other activities or deduce our ability to deal with other things and may therefore affect a wide range of behaviors. For example, if an individual tells himself that he cannot cope, or is going to fail, often impacts on his actual behavior. He may start avoiding things, fidgeting, shouting, stuttering, becoming aggressive or crying (Baum et al, 1985). Furthermore, McEwen and Krahn state that the brain is the master organ for behavior. When people are dealing with a stressor, it is still their choice if they pig out in the kitchen or go for a jog. Though most articles suggest that most individuals experience negative behavioral coping responses, the good thing in this dimension is that the action is still preceded by a decision. Though a person cannot be responsible for his emotional and physical responses to stress, he is liable for his behavioral response.

Cognitively speaking, some people think of their situation in a more stressful provoking manner than how other individuals do. The interpretation of the situation determines its stressfulness. Individuals under stress have a hard time in concentrating, thinking clearly, and focusing on the present task since thoughts tend to keep returning to the stressor. In addition, stress triggers a series of though patterns and some of the most common are worry, confusion, and negative thinking (Tennant, 2003). For some individuals, when stressed, they could associate their self-worth with external success. Expecting their own selves to be perfect, they might fail to take into consideration their own needs and wants. Changes may also be viewed as threats rather than opportunities to have new experiences.  

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