Stress: Definition, Effects and Dealing with Stressors (Essay Example)
One of the major problems being faced today is stress. Everyone at one point in time experiences stress. Many scholars and researchers have attempted to define stress. Lazarus Folk man (1984) defines stress as potentially harmful or exceeding our coping resources. It is internal. The effects are caused by an environment, society or physical situations. Another scholar, called David Fontana, says that stress is a demand made upon the adaptive capacities of the mind and body.
According to these definitions, one factor clearly stands out. Stress is a condition whereby an individual has a lot of demand, which has been placed upon them. They are unable to meet these demands either physiologically or psychologically. This leads to a breakdown.
An only single negative side of stress is popularly known. Stress can be presented as a positive thing or negative. It is positive when one gains something from an opportunity presented. This could be achieving a set goal or fulfilling a promise. Positive stress is an essential factor in our lives.
The term used to describe positive stress is Eustress (‘eu’ means good in Greek). In the absence of positive stress, an individual lacks some energy and spirit that is necessary for peak performance. It is, therefore, viewed as a motivator. Negative stress is called Distress, and it is very harmful. It causes physical, emotional or even psychological pain. There are numerous ways of dealing with stress which will be outlined below.
Causes of Stress
A little stress is important, as it helps us to adapt to changes in our environment. However, not everyone is stressed by the same factors. An intensity of those stressors also varies from one individual to another. Somebody can tolerate stress up to a certain level before it becomes negative stress. There are many factors, which seem to be constant stressors for everyone.
Examples of Stress Factors
- Infections such as terminal illnesses, eg. Cancer, hypertension, or any type of injury. The injury could occur as a result of sports, carelessness or accidents. Major transitions in life also compel us to cope with the change such as movement from childhood to puberty.
- Physical environment such as climate change, pollution (land, water and air) and noise.
- Work, health, family, finances, social activities and other factors which an individual means of life centers on.
- Conflict and disappointments.
Stressors are commonly defined as the environmental, physical and social causes. On the internal stress state, they induce various responses. Some of the responses from the stress state include, physiological responses, for example, irritability, anxiety, feeling unable to cope with the world and hopelessness.
The effects of stress are numerous depending on how long the stressors are maintained. For example, if they are long-term, emotional effects, psychological effects, behavioral effects and cognitive effects will be observed. The effects create discomfort and distress in an individual. They also hinder adaptation to each environment and tend to become stress, thus, beginning a cycle of distress.
An example is a patient who has spent a lot of money to get treatment for a disease. The disease gives the patient stress. After the cure, the stress continues because of worry about payment of the medical bill. The stressors have moved from one effect to the other. This same case applies to a patient that has gotten an amputation after an accident. They may continue to be worried about the situation after being continuously worried about the accident.
There are several ways people have developed to cope with stress. This helps them to respond adaptively. The wellness cycle is, thus, developed. The new fields of behavioral medicine focus mostly on teaching people some of the adaptive methods of dealing with stress in order to promote the wellness cycle.
Consequences of Stress
Stress is sometimes a positive thing. It is a proven fact that low levels of stress improve performance. An example is students - they can only prepare well for an upcoming exam if they have low levels of stress. On the other hand, excess levels of stress are very harmful.
Classifying the Causes of Stress
There are three categories to classify the causes of stress:
The most common symptoms of stress are a reduction in immunity, peptic ulcers, heart disease, hypertension, numbness of limbs, chronic fatigue, difficulty in breathing, hormonal changes, and increased heart rate.
An individual, experiencing stress, may encounter the following: anxiety, boredom, depression, tension, hopelessness, irritability, anger, helplessness and nervousness.
The most common symptoms are decreasing efficiency, accident proneness, making mistakes, passiveness, and inability to make decisions, sleeplessness, under-eating or overeating, increased smoking, drug addiction and forgetfulness.