Stress comes from unknown sources and occurs naturally to many people. Stress has also been identified as a surviving universal element, in the sense that species that don’t adapt well to stress don’t live through generations, and those that do, survive and evolve into the plant and animal kingdoms we see today (Spielberger and Reheiser, 2009, pp. 294-295). Simply, stress manifests itself through external pressures that affect an individual (Kumar, 2008, p. 201). This study is multifaceted and explores the dynamism of stress; its arguments (positivity and negativity), causes, effects its prevalence among vulnerable groups, and how it can be managed. This study will therefore make us better understand the stress and why we should avoid and manage it.
Causes of Stress
Generally, stress can be caused by several factors, and leading among them is the threat (Davis, 2008, p. 279). An eminent threat in the life of an individual is bound to make him/her be stressed. The types of threats are usually non-discriminatory because they may involve physical threats, psychological threats, financial threats, and the likes. Stress levels in this type of situation can be further elevated especially when the individual feels there is no way to reduce the stress factor (Changing Minds, 2010).
Cognitive dissonance has also been identified as a leading cause of stress. This is the perceived difference between what we think and what is real. This difference is often manifested in form of stress. For example, if a good person does something wrong to another and feels guilty about it, he/she is likely to be stressed. The failure to meet commitments can also be a stress factor. Most often than not we usually perceive ourselves as commitment and organized individuals but when an unforeseen factor prevents us from achieving our goals we fall back into depression which manifests itself as stress (Changing Minds, 2010).
People Vulnerable to Stress
Anyone can be stressed; however, some individuals are more vulnerable than others. Research has identified that people with poor social networks are more vulnerable to stress than people with strong social networks. People with few social networks get less support than those with larger social networks (Robinson, 2003, p. 185). Equally, people who are poorly nourished are more likely to be stressed than those who are not. This is true because those with a poor diet have less capacity for handling stress than their counterparts who are well-nourished. Age also contributes to stress levels because certain stress factors are associated with certain age groups while others are not. In this respect, children, adolescents, working parents, and seniors are more likely to experience stress factors as they relate to life transitions. Our vulnerability to stress is, therefore, a determinant of individual life factors such as physical health, quality of interpersonal relationships, commitments, responsibilities, and other life factors (Stöppler, 2010).
Effects of Stress
Recent findings have shown that people normally respond to the effects of stress as a variable to the factors that directly affect them in the environment. This sort of interplay is not distinct because virtually all matters in the environment are inevitable to these exchanges. There is however a significant difference in the way people react to stress because some people manage stress effectively while others don’t (Ader, 2007, p. 726).
Stress works by destabilizing the human hormonal balance hence inducing the urge to either flee or fight so the effects of stress are often uncontrollable. They may also be unpredictable and extensive (about physical and mental health). Essentially, stress can occur throughout a person’s life. One of the most common effects of stress is the ability to make someone feel hopeless. This may consequently lead to many types of diseases and conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and the likes (Hammen, 2009, p. 722). It is therefore important for people to identify these detrimental factors that cause stress to take steps to avoid such factors. Accumulation of these negative effects has been identified to be the primary reason why overall performance and human productivity decreases in the long run (Mac Millian & Weyers, 2009).
Unfortunately, stress does not make people active because it prepares victims to either fight or flees (Stöppler, 2010). Many people sit behind their desks and often sulk at their current situation. Nonetheless, the most recommended strategy for reducing stress is regular exercise (Stöppler, 2010). Research studies have identified exercise as an antioxidant that can make victims overcome sleeping problems too (Stöppler, 2010).
Drug abuse and alcohol uptake is also discouraged at all levels of stress management despite the urge most people feel to indulge when stressed. However, studies have shown that indulging in substance abuse only increases the sensitivity and responsiveness to stress factors. Moreover, indulgence in drugs and alcohol only postpones problems and never solves them (Dunner, 2001, pp. 65-66). It is therefore important that people take control of their lives and realize that they are responsible for their actions. This essentially entails refraining from vices that don’t add value to life (Mac Millian & Weyers, 2009).
The effect of long-term, uninterrupted stress, depression, or anxiety is not positive. It is therefore important that stressed individuals take periodic breaks by preoccupying themselves with activities that take the mind off the stress factors (Smith, 2009). For example, if someone is stressed because of work, it is important to take a lunch or tea break and refrain from talking about matters related to work. It would be even more effective to take a walk during that break. This way, exercise takes the mind off the stress factors. Taking long vacations or scheduling long weekends while avoiding tedious events is also a good strategy to reduce the effects of stress (Stöppler, 2010).
Under the pressures of today’s modern society, stress is virtually unavoidable for most people. Whilst some degree of stress can help us grow, it can destroy us in the long run if we don’t’ properly manage it. If action is ignored and proper management unexecuted, there is bound to be an impact on the health of an individual. Due to the importance of managing stress, research studies have confirmed that the best ways of managing stress are through regular exercise, structured time outs, and a healthy diet. This helps by involving a person both physically and mentally. It is also important to observe these practices may cause uninterrupted feelings of stress and prove disastrous in the long run. In conclusion, to properly manage stress, individuals should be willing to make lifestyle changes.
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Davis, M., 2008.The Relaxation & Stress Reduction. New York: New Harbinger Publications.
Dunner, D., 2001. Management of Anxiety Disorders: The Added Challenge of Comorbidity. Depression and Anxiety, 13, pp. 57–71.
Hammen, C., 2009. Chronic and Acute Stress and the Prediction Of Major Depression in Women. Depression and Anxiety, 26, pp. 718–723.
Kumar, S., 2008.Entrepreneurship Development. New York: New Age International.
Mac Millian, K. & Weyers, J., 2009. The Smarter Study Skills Companion. Essex: Pearson Educational Limited.
Robinson, G., 2003. Stresses on Women Physicians: Consequences and Coping Techniques. Depression and Anxiety, 17, pp. 180–189.
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