Daily Hassles

In 2019, 68.9 million GP appointments were made due to stress-related illnesses in the UK; that's more than one appointment for each UK resident1. But what exactly is making us sick? Is modern, fast-paced life really harming our health? 

Daily Hassles Daily Hassles

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Table of contents

    Daily Hassles, Senisitivity warning concerning the topics discussed, StudySmarter

    Psychologists have connected going through significant life changes and poor health due to stress. However, it seems like even without any big changes, the daily hassles of everyday life can take a toll on our health. Given how much the modern world has changed in the last 100 years, we must pay close attention to how this stress affects the body and mind.

    • We'll start by defining the daily hassles meaning.
    • Next, we'll examine the relationship between daily hassles and stress.
    • We'll follow with some daily hassles examples.
    • Moving along, we'll consider daily hassles stress psychology research, which shows their impact on stress and health-related issues.
    • Finally, we'll provide a brief daily hassles evaluation.

    Daily Hassles, stressed woman sitting at a desk and holding her head with other people handing her phones and documents, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Many people experience several stressful events throughout their day; these instances can add up, taking a toll on their health and well-being.

    Daily Hassles: Meaning

    Sources of stress in psychology are often linked to either major life changes or daily hassles. Life changes are a common indirect source of stress as they are typically experiences that result in daily hassles (e.g. having a baby brings the hassles of sleepless nights, etc.). Moreover, life changes can result in stress, whether they are positive or negative, as even the positive changes require us to adjust physically and mentally to them.

    Life changes refer to significant events such as marriage, a child's birth, or a loved one's death.

    On the other hand, daily hassles are small but frequent events that happen throughout our day and directly result in stress.

    Examples of daily hassles include bus delays, rising prices or arguments with a partner.

    Hassles evoke negative emotions such as frustration. They can be overwhelming or annoying and can lead to low moods. After some time, the stress adds up and can harm your health.

    However, pleasant daily events that give you a sense of satisfaction, relief, or joy can act as a buffer against stress and protect you from the adverse effects of stress. Such events are called uplifts.

    Examples of daily uplifts include managing your workload, finding your work meaningful, having enough spare time, or having the support of your loved ones.

    Daily Hassles and Stress

    The Hassles and Uplifts Scale (DeLongis et al., 1988) consists of 53 items that measure people's attitudes toward various aspects of their lives on a given day. Unlike other measures of stress sources, the Hassles and Uplifts Scale recognises the role of everyday events (rather than just major, life-changing events) in predicting our health outcomes.

    Earlier studies have used two separate questionnaires, a 117-item scale to assess hassles and a 135-item scale to assess uplifts, which DeLongis et al. (1988) combined to develop a revised, 53-item, shorter scale combining the two scales.

    Example items from the Hassles and Uplifts Scale developed by DeLongis et al. (1988) include "Housework", "Legal matters", "Enough money for education", "Time spent with family", or "Your workload".

    Respondents rate each item on the scale twice: first, how much of a hassle an item has been for them that day, and second, how uplifting it was that day.

    The scale is scored by adding the uplift ratings on each item and subtracting hassles ratings on each item from the total. The hassles and uplifts are measured on a spectrum from 0 (none) to 3 (a great deal).

    If a participant rated "Time spent with family" as a two on the uplift scale and three on the hassle scale would be scored as -1.

    A positive final score indicates a greater proportion of uplifting events that day. In contrast, a negative score suggests greater levels of hassles (stressors) on that day, which can negatively impact mental and physical health.

    Daily Hassles, A person filling out a questionnaire, StudySmarterFig. 2 - Daily hassles are measured with the 54-item Hassles and Uplifts Scale.

    Daily Hassles Examples

    According to Lazarus (1980), when confronted with a daily hassle, a person makes two appraisals of the situation.

    1. The first is the primary appraisal, in which one considers how threatening a situation is to one's well-being.

    2. When a person rates a situation as threatening, they make a secondary appraisal – the person considers whether they can handle the situation.

    Based on this model, let's examine how daily hassles might affect one's health.

    Clare is balancing their job and school. Her supervisor at work and teachers at school don't offer her any support. Whenever she is faced with a difficulty at school or work, she feels like she cannot handle it. Because of her multiple commitments, she also struggles to find time to socialise or engage in activities she enjoys, meaning she has little relief from stress.

    If she maintains this level of stress long-term, she's at higher risk of developing stress-related illnesses.

    Lorna is Clare's co-worker, although she is faced with the same assignments and challenges at work. However, it doesn't cause her nearly as much stress because she knows she has the time and support from her supervisor to cope with it. She also has time to socialise and do what she likes daily, which protects her from stress.

    Daily Hassles Stress: Psychology Research

    Research has examined the effects of daily hassles on stress, physical and mental health.

    Kanner et al. (1981) examined whether daily hassles are a greater source of stress than life changes. A sample of 100 participants took part in this study.

    Participants were asked to:

    • Complete the hassles and uplift scale each month for nine months.

    • Complete a questionnaire about life changes at baseline and after ten months.

    • Complete the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist, a checklist of psychological symptoms at months two and ten.

    • Complete the Bradburn Morale Scale; a psychological well-being scale completed each month for nine months.

    Results showed a significant positive correlation between the frequency of daily hassles and psychological symptoms.

    Daily hassles were a much better predictor of stress than life changes.

    But how are daily hassles related to health? DeLongis et al. (1982) examined the relationship between daily hassles and uplifts and reported somatic health across nine months in a sample of 100 middle-aged Americans.

    The researchers found that ratings of daily hassles remained consistent across nine months. Everyday problems were more strongly related to health than significant life events. Moreover, both intensity and frequency of hassles were related to health, while uplifts had little effect on physical health.

    Daily Hassles, Woman talking to a doctor, StudySmarterFig. 3 - DeLongis et al. (1982) found in their research that daily hassles were more affected by health outcomes than significant life events.

    Daily Hassles Evaluation

    Let's discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the daily hassles measurement and research.

    One strength of the Hassles and Uplifts Scale is that unlike other scales assessing sources of stress (e.g. The Social Readjustment Rating Scale), it measures both the negative and positive attitudes towards daily events.

    Positive events can make us more resilient to daily stresses, so asking about them gives us a better picture of a person's stress level than just asking about the negative ones.

    Measuring positive and negative attitudes is also important to help avoid response bias – participants tend to respond positively when self-reporting, which can skew results.

    When completing long questionnaires, participants may become tired, lose interest, or stop paying attention to their answers. The questionnaires used in early research contained hundreds of questions. The revised, shorter version is more practical and reliable, which is another strength of this scale.

    However, a weakness of the Hassles and Uplifts Scale is that it only measures a person's attitude on a given day, which might not give us an accurate picture of one's stress levels in general.

    Our memory is contextual, meaning we are likely to remember more negative events when we are in a bad mood and more positive events when we are in a good mood.

    Therefore, our responses on the scale are not always objective and reliable.

    Moreover, some items are not relevant for certain groups. The scale consists of items related to work, spouses, intimate relationships, caring for children, or substance use, making the scale less relevant to young people or children.

    Research on hassles and uplifts relies on correlational evidence. It is possible that the relationship between stress and appraisal of daily events is bidirectional or that many other factors influence both.

    Because it is a self-report measure, it relies on people being truthful and accurate in their reports, which is not always the case; this can affect the validity of the research.

    Daily Hassles - Key takeaways

    • The daily hassles meaning is small but frequent events that happen throughout our day and directly result in stress.
    • Some daily hassles examples are housework, losing things and workload.
    • The Hassles and Uplifts Scale developed by DeLongis et al. (1988) consists of 53 items that measure people's attitudes toward various aspects of their lives on a given day.
    • Research has found that daily hassles better predict stress and health outcomes than major life changes.
    • The scale's strengths include the fact that it considers both positive and negative attitudes and is shorter than previous scales. However, it is limited to measuring one's attitude on a given day. It relies on self-reported data, and the items are not relevant to all groups of people.

    References

    1. Conor Stewart (2021, June 22) Number of GP appointments for physical symptoms driven by stress-related mental illness in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2019 [infographic]. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1135077/gp-appointments-for-stress-related-illness-in-the-uk/
    Frequently Asked Questions about Daily Hassles

    What are some examples of daily hassles?

    Some examples of daily hassles are having your train delayed when commuting, arguing with a friend, children not listening to you, having health concerns or being assigned a difficult task at work.

    What are daily hassles in psychology?

    The daily hassles meaning is small but frequent events that happen throughout our day and directly result in stress. 

    How are daily hassles measured?

    Daily hassles are usually measured by completing a questionnaire about what daily hassles you have experienced during a set time, e.g., the past six months. An example of this is the Hassles and Uplifts Scale.

    How do daily hassles contribute to stress?

    Daily hassles are a big source of stress because they happen frequently and can accumulate, leading to more and more stress.

    How do daily hassles cause stress?

    Daily hassles cause stress because they are considered threatening and challenging to handle. They are also associated with negative emotions like frustration, annoyance or low mood, which contribute to stress.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Can positive life events be a source of stress?

    Daily hassles are a better predictor of stress than significant life changes.

    A positive final score on the Hassles and Uplifts Scale indicates ______ .

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