Stress has not only become a way of life, but it has also become a sometimes-welcomed friend. Add it to your college, job, family, and you have the potential for continual stress. Understanding that stress is a part of life and cannot be avoided, strategies must be developed to facilitate adaptation.
1-What is your definition of stress?
2-What are the phycological and physiological indicators of stress?
3-Identify a personal situation you found highly stressful?
4-Which techniques can be used to manage or reduce stress?
Stress: A Challenge and an Opportunity
Stress is a common phenomenon that affects everyone in different ways. Some people may experience stress as a negative and overwhelming force that impairs their physical and mental health, while others may see stress as a positive and motivating factor that enhances their performance and well-being. According to the American Psychological Association, stress is “the physiological or psychological response to internal or external stressors” (APA, 2020). Stressors are the events or situations that trigger stress, such as deadlines, exams, conflicts, or changes. Stress responses are the reactions of the body and mind to stressors, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol levels, anxiety, or anger.
The effects of stress depend on several factors, such as the type, intensity, duration, and frequency of stressors, as well as the individual’s personality, coping skills, social support, and resilience. Some stress can be beneficial and adaptive, as it helps people to prepare for challenges, learn new skills, and overcome obstacles. This type of stress is called eustress, and it is usually short-term and manageable. However, when stress becomes chronic and excessive, it can impair the functioning of the immune system, cardiovascular system, nervous system, and endocrine system, leading to various health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, insomnia, or ulcers. This type of stress is called distress, and it is usually long-term and overwhelming.
Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs and sources of stress in one’s life and to develop effective strategies to cope with it. Some of the common indicators of stress are:
– Physical symptoms: headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, chest pain, etc.
– Emotional symptoms: anxiety, irritability, sadness, anger, mood swings, low self-esteem, etc.
– Behavioral symptoms: changes in appetite, sleep patterns, social interactions, work performance, substance use, etc.
– Cognitive symptoms: difficulty concentrating, memory problems, poor judgment, negative thoughts, etc.
Some of the techniques that can be used to manage or reduce stress are:
– Relaxation techniques: breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, massage, etc.
– Physical activity: aerobic exercise, walking, jogging, swimming, etc.
– Social support: talking to friends, family members, counselors, etc.
– Time management: setting priorities, making schedules, delegating tasks, etc.
– Problem-solving: identifying the causes of stressors and finding solutions
– Cognitive restructuring: challenging irrational beliefs and replacing them with positive ones
– Humor: laughing at oneself or at the situation
– Self-care: eating healthy foods; drinking enough water; getting enough sleep; avoiding caffeine; nicotine; alcohol; drugs; etc.
Stress is inevitable in life but it can also be an opportunity for growth and development. By understanding the nature and effects of stress and by applying effective coping strategies one can enhance one’s health; happiness; and productivity.
APA. “Stress.” American Psychological Association; 2020; https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/. Accessed 11 Sep 2023.
Lazarus; Richard S.; and Susan Folkman. Stress; Appraisal; and Coping. Springer Publishing Company; 1984.
Selye; Hans. The Stress of Life. McGraw-Hill Education; 1978.
Taylor; Shelley E. Health Psychology. 10th ed.; McGraw-Hill Education; 2018.