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Research Companion to Organizational Health Psychology

Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper

This timely Research Companion is essential reading to advance the understanding of healthy behaviours within working environments and to identify problems which can be the cause of illness. Containing both theoretical and empirical contributions written by distinguished academics working in Europe, North America and Australia, the book covers leading edge topics ranging from current theories of stress, stress management, and stress in specific occupational groups, such as doctors and teachers, to the relationship of stress with well-being. It provides systematic approaches towards practical actions and stress interventions in working environments and a solid theoretical framework for future research. It will be an essential companion to research on psychology and medicine as well as stress.
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Chapter 6: Eustress and Attitudes at Work: A Positive Approach

Debra L. Nelson and Bret L. Simmons


Debra L. Nelson and Bret L. Simmons Studies of work stress have proliferated in the past twenty years, and a solid research base has been built that focuses on the identification of stressors, the individual stress response and the consequences of distress. This research has been built upon a tradition of preventing the negative; that is, preventing the noxious aspects of stress at work and treating the symptoms. Organizational interventions have been proposed, and individual characteristics have been identified that predispose people either to cope less well with stressors or to be particularly vulnerable to the deleterious health outcomes of excessive or mismanaged distress. Our own research is a part of this tradition. We see it as an integral part of stress management, yet there is an overlooked aspect of the management of work stress that remains to be explored. While some scholars mention eustress, and even offer definitions of it, we have yet to see evidence of studies that focus on the positive response to demands. Intuitively, however, we know that some people flourish under stress. We propose that there are two pathways to the positive in terms of managing work stress. One pathway is the more familiar preventing or reframing the negative, as in the bulk of work stress research as we know it. The second pathway, more hazy and unfamiliar, is the promotion of the positive, recognizing and generating eustress at work. This is indeed a new perspective in occupational health. In this...

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