The Stress Coping Mechanisms

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I. Introduction

In definition, stress is “a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.” and “something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety” (Merriam – Webster Dictionary, 1828-2016). It differs from person to person, this motivates us to accomplish what is needed for an individual. But, too much stress can cause negative effects on a person’s physical (e.g. headache, fatigue, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, etc.) and mental health (e.g. anxiety, unexplained sadness or depression, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, etc.), as well as his/her behaviour (e.g. mood swings, overeating or under-eating, tobacco use, social withdrawal, angry outbursts, exercising less often, etc.). Lack of stress, on the other hand, would slowly make somebody apathetic, meaning, he/she would not strive to do his/her responsibilities and personal goals.

II. Background

The human body is meant to be exposed to and tolerate stress, as well as to respond to it. The response of the human body may depend whether the stress is positive, termed eustress, or the stress is negative, termed distress. According to Brock University, located in Canada (2010), eustress is the kind of stressor that is beneficial to a person, it motivates and increases the focus of a person, can be managed by our coping abilities, improves memory, keeps us alert in case of dangerous/emergency situations, and help boost your immune system. Examples include experiencing new things, creating a new hobby, studying, and incoming exam. While, distress can be defined as the kind of stressor that a challenge face by an individual without relief or relaxation from all the tasks, they can cause anxiety, sleep deprivation, decrease performance, and lead to problems with physical or mental health. Examples include, death of a loved one, procrastination, bankruptcy, excessive schoolwork, interpersonal relationship problems. For this study, the researchers focused on the distress

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This paper sought to know the stress coping mechanisms of college students which answers the questions such as what are the stressors of the college students, how do these stressful things affect their academic performance and what are their stress coping mechanisms.

III. Discussion

Hong, Lei (2011) investigated that there are four major stressors to college students, namely employment situations, studying conditions, personal factors, and economic conditions. In the worst possible effects, excessive stress was observed to cause suicide.

Sreeramareddy, Shankar, Binu, Mukhopadhyay, Ray and Menezes (2007) chose 525 medical students in Nepal to participate in their study regarding the negative effects of stress and its sternness. The usual stressors were academic and psychosocial matters. The most significant stressors, according to their results, were parental expectations, vastness of syllabus, tests/exams, lack of time and facilities for entertainment. The stress coping tactics found were planning, acceptance, self–distraction, emotional support, and positive reframing. Alcohol/drug/tobacco use was the least used stress coping mechanism.

There are two theories involving the separate methods of researching about stress: the “systematic stress” by Selye based in physiology and psychobiology, and the “psychological stress” model by Lazarus. Focusing on the psychological stress, the idea of coping is significant. Without a strategy to cope with stress, an individual will be burdened, leading to certain misery and pessimism.

In the term paper of Strawder (2016), “Stress is the combination of psychological, physiological, and behavioral reactions that people have in response to events that threaten or challenge them. Stress can be good or bad. Sometimes, stress is helpful, providing people with the extra energy or alertness they need”, with that stated we can prove the eustress and distress definition in the introduction to be true. In her studies, she mentioned stressors as those that cause stress leading to a response, as an example, decision making is a stressor and the resulting anxiety is the response. Stressors involve three types of events, daily hassles, major life events, and catastrophes, with the addition of affecting particular domains of life, such as school, work, and family. Daily hassles are those events that occur in a daily basis, such as going to school, meeting deadlines, arguing with friends and family, and too many more to mention. “Accordingly, major life events generally do not tend to be related to the health problems that accompany stress. Under some circumstances, however, major life events can be sources of stress. Whether major life events involve positive or negative feelings, for instance, is relevant. Major life events that are positive tend to have either trivially stressful or actually beneficial effects, but major life events that are negative can be stressful and are associated with medical problems. Examples of major life events are getting married” is specifically stated in the term paper for better understanding. Catastrophes do not happen very much often, but they cause a great amount of stress. One example is an occurrence of a natural calamity, the 1989 San Francisco earthquake made the citizens more anxious, and it also caused phobias for some citizens. Another instance is war; families of soldiers tend to be depressed after the departure of the loved one going to war.

Wadsworth, Raviv, Compas, and Connor-Smith (2005) specifically stated in the abstract of their study “We tested several models of the associations among economic strain, life stress, coping, involuntary stress responses, and psychological symptoms in a sample of 57 parent-adolescent dyads from rural, lower-income families. Economic strain and life stress predicted symptoms for both parents and adolescents. Stressor-symptom specificity was found for parents, such that economic strain uniquely predicted depression, whereas negative life events predicted hostility. Involuntary stress responses were associated with higher levels of symptoms for both parents and the adolescent children. Secondary control coping was associated with fewer symptoms for both parents and adolescents. Results support a meditational role of coping and responses to stress during adolescence, with a shift to moderational status in adulthood. Implications of these results are discussed with regard to developmental coping theory and potential interventions with at-risk families”, in conclusion, the financial problems of families contribute as a major stressor. Those in rural areas that are in low economics give parents and youth more stress.

Dongping, Wenhua, Xian, Yueyue, Liyan, Yanhui (2016) studied about the relationship between stress of Chinese adolescent students and internet addiction. Their studies were conducted to 998 Chinese adolescents with the mean age of 15.15 years. The students filled questionnaires regarding life events, psychological needs for satisfaction, coping style, and internet addiction. The analysis indicated that stressful life events of these particular youths were well related with internet addiction, since the coping style of the said Chinese adolescents were associated with internet use leading to addiction.

IV. Conclusion

Academic concern is the major stressor of the college students, which shows how dedicated these adolescents are to their roles as a student to the point where they become stressed in persevering to not only do their responsibilities, but also to strive for excellence. Since academic concern is the major stressor, it is obvious that the stress acquired from this is severely affecting their grades. The concurrency of schoolwork is one of the said reasons why the students are having difficulty in maintaining grades. Their performance is affected in the way that they tend to feel anxious and overthink the situations, making them lose focus and presence of mind.

The most common coping mechanism is to “stay positive/optimistic”. In that way, the students can lessen their stress by converting their distress into eustress, this gives them more motivation or interest to continue their schoolwork. The findings showed that the adolescents chose to “look at the bright side” to endure or manage the stress.

List Of References

  1. Arnold, Andrew. Stress and Health. March 25, 2010. [12/09/2018]
  2. Dongping Lia, , , Wenhua Zhanga, Xian Lib, Yueyue Zhoua, Liyan Zhaoc, Yanhui Wangd. Stressful life events and adolescent Internet addiction: The mediating role of psychological needs satisfaction and the moderating role of coping style. October 2016. [December/09/2018]
  3. James, Christopher. Stress and Coping Mechanism. 2015. [December/09/2018]
  4. Martha E. Wadsworth, Tali Raviv, Bruce E. Compas, Jennifer K. Connor-Smith. Parent and Adolescent Responses to Poverty Related Stress: Tests of Mediated and Moderated Coping Models. 2005. [December/09/2018]
  5. Neale R. Chumbler, Smitha Ganashen, Colleen O’Brien Cherry, Dawn Garrett Wright, Jennifer J. Bute. Rewriting Life Narratives: Positive Coping Mechanisms in Adolescent Mothers. 2016. [December/09/2018]


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