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Handling Stress Essay, Research Paper

Handling Stress

This essay is about handling the stress of University studies. We will be looking into many ideas and different people?s views on how to handle stress. I will also be giving my own opinions on how I think stress can be controlled or relieved. The first thing we must do is ask ourselves one very important question, ?what is stress?? WHAT IS STRESS? According to an Australian born physician, Hans Selye (1979), stress is the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it. The body responds in many ways. One is to the loss of blood and the other is to the lack of sleep. Both of these are nonspecific responses, however all demands made on the body evoke generalised, nonspecific responses. For example, they all unable you to concentrate as would normally be expected, they activate one?s sympathetic nervous system, and they also increase the amount of the hormone epinephrine that is being released into your body. When people say they?ve been under going alot of stress they are usually referring to a couple of unpleasant experiences. Now that we have an idea on what stress is the next question we should ask ourselves is ?what is or can cause stress?. CAUSES OF STRESS There are many different things that cause stress. One may be if you have a big term paper due and you want to do your best to impress your seminar leader. Another may be peer or family related. All in all it is things, events, situations, and people that cause stress. It is how we perceive them that will determine whether or not stress will be a result from the encounter. Not only negative situations are the cause of stress. Joy and happiness can also cause stress even though they are positive. In a sense, it is we then who choose our own stressors. Selye noted that with the absence of stress there is death. Current researchers are also discovering that too little stress may be a major cause of depression or boredom. It is therefore up to us to choose the best Handling Stress # stressors and the optimal level of stress. Since we have now begun to understand the definition of stress as well as the causes we now ask ourselves ?what can I do to control my stress?? CONTROLLING STRESS There have been many studies done on the managements of stress. One group of researchers found out that many university students tended to gain weight their first year away from home. These ?students stated they overate in response to the many life-style changes and varying stresses of the university environment (Journal of College Student Personnel)?. This group of students were placed in stress management sessions. These sessions included overall stress assessment, assertiveness training, time management, exploration of stressful thoughts or belief systems, and life-style and stress reducers. The main focus of these sessions were: a) how to manage stress by using things other than food and b) how to apply stress management principles to the amount of food you take in. The majority of these students found better ways to manage or control their stress by using more healthful outlets, such as walking or taking up a sport. During the last twenty years disease prevention and health promotion have been found to be related to the development of healthy life-style behaviour and the management of stress. The course entitled ? Psychology and the Management of Stress: Theory and Application? (Personnel and Guidance Journal), has been set up to: a) acquaint students with theory and research related to stress management techniques b) to provide guidance and information about diet, physical exercise, and other matters of a healthy life-style and c) to provide an opportunity for students to learn and practice how to apply stress management to their present lives. Each Handling Stress # course is developed around four dimensions. Two of these are, ?the influences of diet, physical exercise, and alcohol, drug, and cigarette use on stress and physical health?, and ?principles related to effective time management?. These courses have been proven to be highly effective. The stages in which the students are taught are as follows: a) the students are asked to identify the stressors b) they are asked how they experience and cope with them c) they are asked how they would like to manage them d) they are then told more effective ways to manage their stressors e) they are asked whether it was effective or not f) how they plan to continue to maintain their new behaviour and g) habits they want to change. Most studies indicate that social support holds an impact on stress. For example, in a 30-year longitudinal study of undergraduate college students, Valliant (1974) found a significant and positive correlation between supportive family environments and adult psychological adjustment in later life (Journal of College Student Personnel). Social support is a good way to help the handling of stress for it is the number of others that one can turn to. That available support system is a lean to for people as they can get others to help in their management of stress. Another study was done where eleven junior college students who received ?success-stress management? training exhibited less stress and higher grade point averages than an equal number who received ?success? group training (Journal of College Student Personnel). As well multicomponent strategies employing cognitive restructuring and relaxation have been found to be highly effective in treating the worry and emotionally stressed with test anxiety. A number of studies have shown that low achievers seem to experience more anxiety than high achievers and that they appear to lack good healthy study skills and habits. Borkovec, Grayson, and Cooper (1978) found that 1/5 of a group of college students reported feeling tense during at least 50% Handling Stress # of each day. Speilberger?s (1966) estimate that 15% of college students are test anxious supports the contention that some of this daily tension may result from test anxiety (Journal of College Student Personnel). All in all the success-stress management program was found to be more effective in reducing stress and increasing one?s academic performance than the success program. The goals of all these programs are to a) to help students to understand stress and the role it plays in their lives and b) to help students acquire healthy methods of managing their stress. They are there for social support and to give the student or person an increased feeling of self-control. They also help in student developing and emphasise on personal awareness, the development of personal change strategies, and the periodic review of those strategies. These stress management programs or courses are not the only things that help with the controlling or management of stress. There are many other things that students themselves may have discovered in keeping their stress under control. Things that you or I may never have thought of. I decided to take a survey of my peers and see exactly what they used or did, if anything, to help manage their stress. Some of the things I came up with were quite surprising: Three people I talked to said they liked to take time off from their studies and write, either in a journal or a letter to someone, eight people said they liked to exercise, such as taking walks or doing aerobics, two people said they liked to take a break and have a nap, twelve people said they liked to snack, four people liked to reorganise their work so that it was copeable, fifteen people said they liked to go to the bar, and six people said that sex helped them relieve the tension of studies. All these things people said helped them to relax and relieve the tension of their studies. Though these things may not manage one?s stress on a day to day basis they seem to help people from allowing the tension to build up to a point of disaster. Handling Stress # Some people may even feel enough stress to cause them to acquire an ulcer. This is caused when a stressful experience activates mostly the sympathetic nervous system, increasing heart rate, breathing rate, and epinephrine secretions. Ulcers do not occur during the stress period itself but during the rest period. The digestive secretions increase causing the excess secretions to eat away at the lining of the stomach and intestines causing and ulcer. Severe stress, however, can cause a condition called posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This condition is usually caused when one has endured extreme stress causing them to feel prolonged anxiety and depression. Though I have never heard of university students getting posttraumatic stress disorder I know of afew people around my age who have obtained and ulcer, myself for one. These are just two things that stress has been known to cause or attribute to. Though what you?ve read so far gives alot of detail into what one can do to manage their stress I believe that the only real way to managing one?s stress is through the art of relaxation. Even though I do use some of the ways my peers have stated I believe that for full effect of managing stress one must first learn how to relax themselves. Learning how to relax is a simple thing to do and if done effectively will affect you both physically as well as psychologically. Rest pauses, as well as widely spaced periods of exercise and ?me time? can and will help prevent tension, psychophysical stress, and inefficiency. Thorndike tells us that, to protect the mind, the body needs rest pauses and sleep, as well as frequent changes of position and movement, and social intercourse. These rest pauses as well as such things as laughter are what will help one relax psychologically. To physically relax one?s self exercise has yet to fail. There are many different ways to exercise th! at will help in the release of tension. Small exercises developed for individual parts of the body, such Handling Stress # as the arms, legs, neck, and forehead, will help the most. These small exercises are very good for they relax each muscle individually, therefore making sure each muscle is relaxed. All of these methods both the physical and the phycological have been proven to work. Though stress seems to be an everyday event everyone should take time off from whatever may be causeing them stress and relax. No matter what relaxation process you decide is the best for you, you should make sure that you keep doing it to prevent any build up of stress that may occur. If you don?t normally take time off for yourself now is a good time to start. Yes kids it?s me time. CONCLUSION Stress is something that everyone takes on in their day to day lives. It is a part of our daily routines and sometimes builds up to the point where we think it is unbearable. There are many things that cause stress, yet at the same time there are many things that help us relieve it. Stress can cause physical as well as emotional illnesses but it has also been proven that too little stress can be harmful as well. There are many different ways of handling stress. Some are for the goodness of one?s physical well being where as some are for one?s emotional well being. There are even some that help with both. All in all stress seems to occur depending on one?s perception of events, people, and daily things for stress occurs on different occasions for different people. Handling Stress # REFERENCES Adams, J.D. (1980). Understanding and Managing Stress, San Diego: University Associates. Kalat, J.W. (1993). Introduction to Psychology: third edition. Pacific Grone: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. Pfeifer, J.E., and Ogloff, J.R.P. (1990). Making the Grade:Strategies for Succeeding at University. Lincoln: JEP and JRPO Rathbone, J.L. (1969). Relaxation. Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger. Rhines, K.L. (1985). Stress and Disease. Pleasantville: Human Relations Media Inc. Romano, J.L. (1984). Stress Management and Wellness: Reaching beyond the counselor?s office. Personnel and Guidance Journal, 62 (9), 533-537. Ross, J. (1993). The Original Student Calendar, Winlaw: Polestar Calendars Ltd. Williams, J.M., Decker, T.W., Libassi, A. (1983), The impact of stress management training on the academic performance of low-achieving college students. Journal of College Student Personnel, 24 (6), 491-494.

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