393 Understanding Stress and Stressors COPING WITH CATASTROPHE Catastrophic events such as terrorism, explosions, hurricanes, plane crashes, school shootings, and other traumas are stressors that can be psychologically devastating for victims, their families, and rescue workers. As was the case in the wake of the 2005 terrorist attacks on the London transit system, health psychologists and other professionals provide on-the-spot counseling and follow-up sessions to help people deal with the consequences of trauma. Psychological Stressors Most of our stressors have both physical and psychological components. Because these components overlap, it is often difﬁcult to separate them for analysis. For example, students are challenged by psychological demands to do well in their courses, as well as by physical fatigue resulting from a heavy load of classes, and maybe a job and family responsibilities, too. So although we focus here on psychological stressors, remember that physical stressors almost always accompany them. Any event that forces a person to change or adapt can be a psychological stressor. Even pleasant events can be stressful. For example, a vacation is supposed to be relaxing and a wedding is supposed to be wonderful, but both can also be exhausting. And a promotion that brings higher pay can also bring new pressures (Schaubroeck, Jones, & Xie, 2001). Still, it is usually unpleasant circumstances that produce the most adverse psychological and physical effects (e.g., Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2005). These circumstances include catastrophic events, life changes and strains, chronic stressors, and daily hassles. Catastrophic events are sudden, unexpected, potentially life-threatening experiences or traumas. Physical or sexual assault, military combat, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and accidents fall into this category. Life changes and strains include divorce, illness in the family, difﬁculties at work, moving to a new house, and other circumstances that create demands to which people must adjust (see Table 10.2). Chronic stressors—those that continue over a long period of time—include such circumstances as living under the threat of terrorism, having a serious illness, being unable to earn a decent living, residing in a high-crime neighborhood, being the victim of discrimination, and even enduring years of academic pressure. Finally, daily hassles involve irritations, pressures, and annoyances that may not be major stressors by themselves but whose effects add up to become signiﬁcant (Almeida, 2005; Evans & Wener, 2006). The frustrations of daily commuting in heavy trafﬁc, for example, can become so intense for some drivers that they display a pattern of aggression called “road rage” (Levy et al., 1997; Rathbone & Huckabee, 1999).