Factors that can protect us from stress

Factors that can protect us from stress

It is clear that we perceive situations in everyday life in different ways: what represents a threat for some people may be an opportunity for others. The way we each experience stress is influenced by various elements called stress response modulators (risk or protective factors).

When we talk about vulnerability to stress, we refer to the degree of susceptibility of subjects to suffer the negative consequences of stress. This susceptibility is usually approached in terms of risk and security profiles.

Risk profile: made up of certain deficient or negative characteristics of the subject's personality, traumatic experiences and experiences, hindering and threatening elements of the environment, inadequate styles of evaluation and coping with conflictive situations. These elements reduce tolerance and increase individual vulnerability, and consequently, they increase the probability of presenting related disorders and diseases.

Security profile: made up of efficient or positive characteristics of the subject's personality, satisfactory life experiences, facilitating elements of the environment, adequate styles of evaluation and coping with conflictive situations. These elements increase tolerance and decrease individual vulnerability, which also decreases the probability of presenting related disorders and diseases.

In his book "Knowledge and mastery of stress", published by Científico-Técnica, Professor Dionisio Zaldívar gives a broad explanation on this subject. Let us look at some of the points to be taken into account:

Lifestyle. This is the name given to those cognitive, affective-emotional and behavioral patterns that show a certain consistency over time, under more or less permanent conditions and that may constitute risk or safety factors, depending on their nature. A healthy lifestyle is an important factor in the configuration of the security profile.

These behaviors reduce the risk of becoming ill, such as adequate control of tension and negative emotions, a good exercise, sleep and distraction regimen, control and avoidance of substance abuse such as caffeine, nicotine or alcohol, and a correct distribution and use of time.

Self-esteem. It is the personal judgment of worth, of positive self-valuation that is expressed in the attitudes that the individual adopts towards him/herself. It has great incidence on the interaction that the subjects maintain with their environment and their response to certain demands; as well as with the possibility or expectations of control. The level of self-esteem influences the type of response and coping in stressful situations.

Control. This is one of the most important variables in terms of handling stressful situations. Having or perceiving some control over stressful events increases the degree of tolerance to stress and reduces the severity of its negative effects. Subjects, who perceive themselves as having a low capacity to control the environment and themselves, tend to be more vulnerable in their coping.

Coping. It is considered as a mediator of the emotional reaction to stressful situations; it includes both classical defense mechanisms and various behaviors or strategies to cope with negative emotional states and solve problems. The main functions of coping are:

1. Attempting to solve the problem.

2. Regulating emotions.

3. Protect self-esteem.

4. Managing social interactions.

The important thing is that the person develops an attitude that leads him/her to seek, in each case, solutions in the most realistic way according to the adjustments required.

Social support. The value of social contacts as a protective element for human beings (positive relationships with family, friends and co-workers) has been demonstrated. The protective role of social support in stressful situations consists of the information and resources offered by other people in the environment that minimize the perception of threat and maximize the perception of control.

Social support acts as an important stress modulator, its presence provides guidance and orientation for action, and it helps to identify personal and social resources.

Personal strength. It is important in increasing stress tolerance the personal strength. This concept considers aspects such as the degree of commitment that the subjects assume with what they undertake, the tendency to evaluate difficulties as a challenge, as something that tests their abilities and not as a threat, the feeling of control over one's circumstances and the tendency to approach problems realistically and with optimism.

As important factors that contribute to personal strength are considered those linked to the subject's system of values and beliefs and his or her worldview, which enable him or her to face difficulties with firmness and optimism.

A positive worldview is not restricted to beliefs about oneself, but includes positive beliefs about others and existence itself. When a person functions under the precept of "not believing in anything or anyone", there is little room for the hope and optimism that sustain effort and perseverance.

Problem-solving skills. While a positive worldview is a powerful resource for dealing effectively with problems, it is not enough. Life is highly complex and full of practical demands, which presupposes that people are able to find answers to the problems they face. It is not for nothing that someone once said that "the problem is not the problem, but the solution".

Social Skills. As positive beliefs and problem-solving skills are necessary, it is clear that conflicts take place in a context of interpersonal relationships in which it is practically impossible for problems and their solution not to have to do with others, particularly those that have a certain degree of significance for people.

This is why the ability to communicate is important. The ability to listen, dialogue, precision in ideas, sensitivity to others, empathy and assertiveness attract others and make them willing to cooperate and collaborate in solutions.

Developing the components of the stress response security profile is something that can be learned, if you have the intention.