Stress In Psychology

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According to the American Institute of Stress, stress can be defined as an individual’s response, physical, mental or emotional, to an event that causes a demand for change (Selye, 1936). For athletes, that demand for change can be caused by an injury, which ultimately can have a significant impact on overall stress levels. While a physical injury can cause psychological stress, mental trauma can similarly affect an athlete physically. An athlete’s psychological stability has a great affect on an athlete’s susceptibility to pain and can alter the response to and recovery from an injury (Ahern, 1997).
Cognitive Appraisal
Many times, an athlete’s psychological response to an injury is impacted greatly on their perception of their injury, rather than the actual injury itself. An athlete’s interpretation of their injury can be defined by the term cognitive appraisal (Brewer, 1994). The cognitive appraisal of an athlete’s injury can affect stress levels significantly by either lowering or heightening them. For example, an athlete can either perceive an injury as a threat or a challenge, and therefore will express either more or less emotional disturbance (Chung, 2012).
Type of Injury
Besides the mechanism of an injury, injuries can be distinguished by their severity. Injury severity can be defined by whether or not the athlete lost participation time (Yang et al., 2012). The National Athletic Injury/Illness Reporting Systems (NAIRS) better differentiates injury severity by classifying injuries as either time-loss (TL) or non-time-loss (NTL) injuries. Injuries that required an athlete to miss the next scheduled event/session were identified as TL injuries, while injuries that did not restrict an athlete’s ability to play we...

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...eir injuries rather athletes who had a TL injury and were missing time (Powell & Dompier, 2004).
Athletes who have a NTL injury, despite being able to play, also are susceptible to an increase in stress levels. One of the main stressors NTL injured athletes face is an increase in fear of (re)injury (Anaesth,2001). A fear of injury or re-injury can significantly affect an athlete’s performance and can cause them to overcompensate, which can result in further injury. In addition, a fear of re-injury can cause major setbacks in rehabilitation as well as performance. According to Crossman (1997), an athlete’s negative outlook towards an injury can subsequently affect the athlete’s attitude regarding recovery and rehabilitation. Not only can an athlete’s mental and emotional state affect rehabilitation, but it also can increase an athlete’s chances for further injury.
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