Thursday 17 October 2013

An essay on Stress Management

Stress Management: Lecture

What is Stress?
Stress is commonplace in the lives of college students. Learning to deal with stress means learning to understand what stress is, identifying common sources, and then practicing some method of stress reduction on a regular basis.
Everyone has some method(s) for dealing with stress. Sometimes the methods we use for dealing with stress are productive: meditation, exercise, and listening to our favorite music would be examples. But sometimes the methods we choose are not so positive: alcohol abuse, smoking and overeating would be examples. Though these negative stress management tools to tend to work in the short term, in the long term they will have other negative health effects. It is best to find stress management tools that will have beneficial, positive health effects in the long run and yet still effectively manage stress in the short term.
Coping with Stress
College students have many sources of stress: school, jobs, relationships, money (the lack of it), etc. Perhaps there is no more important topic than how one can handle or cope with stress. This module hopes to offer some practical advice on how to understand and manage one's stress.
Definition:-Stress refers to how the body responds to any number of physical or emotional stimuli (i.e., stressors).
Effects of this response are sometimes perceptible-such as an increased heart rate, respiratory rate, sweating, skin problems, or tense muscles. Other changes, though common, are not perceptible: increased blood pressure, metabolism, and changes in circulating fats. Continued exposure to stressors, especially of a negative type, will often lead to mental and physical symptoms such as anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, and muscular aches and pains. Eventually, if one cannot find a way to effectively regulate stress, various physical and mental disorders may develop which may be serious enough to cause disability and even death.
There are many kinds of stressors: burnt toast, crying kids, arguments with co-workers, exercise, loud sounds, productive work, viruses, bacteria, overexposure to the sun, and grief are all examples of stressors. While some of these stressors could be considered good, pleasant and/or beneficial, they nevertheless cause a similar generalized response in the body. For example, what does an argument with your boss have in common with jogging? Since they are both stressors, they will each cause increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased respiratory rate and muscle tension. Though your perception of these two stressors might be different, your body's reaction to them is pretty much the same. Therefore, it is important to note that stress is cumulative. It doesn't make any difference whether the stressor is good or bad.
NOTE: the degree of stress which any stressor will cause is dependent on:
1.) the degree to which the stressor is present:- In other words, the more of the stressor, the greater the stress it produces . So, for example, if a small headache causes some stress, a large headache will cause more stress. If a small argument causes a small amount of stress, a huge argument will cause more stress.
2.) how the stressor is perceived :-(different people will view stressors differently). As a result, one stressor might produce distress in one person and eustress in another. Eustress can be defined as a pleasant or curative stress.
Stress can also be beneficial:-
We can't always avoid stress, in fact, sometimes we don't want to. Often, it is controlled stress that gives us our competitive edge in performance related activities like athletics, giving a speech, or acting
For any performance-related activity, there is an optimal amount of stress. If you are involved in an oral interview for a job, you will benefit from a certain amount of stress. It is stress that provides you with focus and gives you your "competitive edge" that will help you think quickly and clearly and express your thought in ways that will benefit your interview process.
Sources of Stress
In order to combat stress in your life, you need to become aware of common sources of stress. While there are many sources of stress, the most important ones to you are the ones that you encounter frequently and that may serve as a source of distress with time.
1)Situational Stress
Situational stress is caused by situational stressors in your immediate environment. An example would be sitting in an airplane as it is taxiing the runway for takeoff. You may be sitting, clutching the arm rests and hoping that you won't need to use the emergency instructions that the stewardess has just explained to you.
Your work environment, while you are working, is considered a situational stress. You are running back and forth, dealing with customers, counting change, answering phones, etc. When your workplace is real busy, you may experience a high level of situational stress. If your workplace is always busy, you may need some coping methods to help you function at high levels with the lowest possible negative reactions to the continual stress.
2)Body Stress
Body stress is stress that results in overt physical symptoms. Examples include abuse, such as consuming too much alcohol, abusing drugs, or exercising too much. On the other hand, some people neglect their bodies by not getting enough sleep or proper nutrition.
Many people view it as a simple hangover, but drinking too much alcohol is a stress to the body. It reduces the amount of REM or dream sleep that you experience and results in a series of problematic symptoms such as headache, fatigue and inability to concentrate. This is an example of body stress that is caused by abuse of alcohol. What is the solution to this kind of stressor. Not too much can be done about an aggressive hangover except to wait out the symptoms. The more serious problem facing you would be to ensure that this type of abuse does not become a regular feature of your life. Often, body stress is related to other sources of stress. For example, the reason that one abuses alcohol may very well have to do with stresses at work or with relationships. So, the abuse of alcohol and resulting body stress is really tied to a deteriorating relationship.
3)Mind Stress
Mind stress is caused by negatively perceiving life events. Some people have a tendency to exaggerate problems or even invent problems that don't exist. We sometimes say that these people make "mountains out of molehills". Try to catch yourself being pessimistic, taking things personally or jumping to conclusions.
Mind stress is very common. You could be reading a book, listening to your teacher lecture or watching a movie, and suddenly you are no longer listening but instead you are thinking about something that happened earlier that morning or something that will be happening later that day. To the extent that you are worrying or fretting over these details is an example of mind stress. People who frequently allow themselves to mentally worry or think negative thoughts are the most prone to the negative long-term effects of mind stress.
How to Deal With Stress
Now that you have learned how to identify sources of stress in your life, and also how to measure the amount of stress you are experiencing, we can now talk about specific ways that you can use to counter the common stressors in your life.
Dealing with Situational Stress
The following interventions can be used to deal with stresses that result from your immediate surroundings.
Make changes in your surroundings
If you have a headache because you've been reading with poor light, move to another room where the lighting is better. Changing your surroundings can mean turning on lights, turning off loud music or raising or lowering your computer chair. Make a careful survey of the places where you spend a good deal of your time, your study place at home or your workplace for example. Check your surroundings carefully for potential situational stressors.
 Caringly and Carefully Communicate
You need to learn to communicate with those with whom you are having problems. Sometimes your situational stress is caused by people. This is a more complicated potential source of stress. Whenever there are problems, you owe it to yourself and to the other person to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the problem. This involves communication in a caring and careful way.

Learn how and when to say "NO"
Sometimes your stress is caused by taking on too many responsibilities. Some people have a habit of always saying "yes" to requests for help by others. Pretty soon they not only have all their own problems and responsibilities to attend to-they have everyone else's too! You need to become more aware of your limits and learn when you have reached them. The next step is to practice saying "no". Remember, your first responsibility is to your own health. You are of little use to others if you are not healthy.

Learn techniques for time management
Situational stress often results from feeling like we don't have enough time to accomplish all we need to in a given day. In many cases it is not a lack of time that is the problem, but rather it is poor time management skills that lead us to this dilemma. Time management means different things to different people. For some, it will be something as simple as making lists of "things to do". For others, learning to use daily planners and organizers will help them to better manage their time.

Delegate responsibilities
People with perfectionist tendencies have trouble delegating work. They have the attitude that, "If I want it done right, I have to do it myself". They fear that by letting someone else help them with a given task, that they are losing control and that something will probably go wrong. We need to learn that there is more than just, "my way" of doing things. Learning to delegate responsibilities when they become overwhelming, will help you build more trusting relationships and will relieve your burden of too many stressors.
Dealing with Body Stress
Practice relaxation training
Dealing with body stress often simply means dealing with the evident symptoms that are seen in the body. For example, when you see rapid, shallow chest breathing, you can counter that with the practice of more relaxed breathing technique. Or when you notice tense muscles in various parts of the body, you can practice systematically relaxing the muscles by consciously loosening the muscles that seem to be tense.

Avoid common stress-inducing substances
1. Decrease your intake of sugar especially refined sugar. Read labels.
2. Cut down your sources of salt to no more than 2200 mg/day. Fast, packaged, and canned foods are notoriously high in salt.
3. Drink no more than the equivalent of two cups of coffee per day (250 mg) or less.
4. Seek out and consume good sources of water-soluble vitamins and if you are unsure, take a vitamin supplement with amounts of the water-soluble vitamins equalling no more than 100% of the RDA.
5. Drink no more than the equivalent of two drinks of alcohol per day.
6. Don't smoke and if you do find a program to help you quit.
7. Get regular exercise.
8.Exercise regularly
9.Practice stretching and/or yoga

Dealing with Mind Stress
The following interventions can be used when your stresses result from negative thinking or from a tendency to mentally create problems or unrealistically exaggerate problems.
Develop and take "Star Treks"
A Star Trek is just another name for mental imagery, or visualization. Just as on TV when they "beam" people back and forth, you can mentally transport yourself to the most peaceful, relaxing place that you can think of. Imagine a beautiful beach scene or lying in an outdoor hot tub on a warm summer night. Whatever you imagine, be sure to pay attention to each detail. Take five or ten minutes out of your day for "Trekking".

Find health enhancing phrases and repeat them regularly
Write little notes to yourself which say, "Smile more today" or, "Don't take things too seriously", or whatever else might reinforce a relaxed state of mind. Post these little notes in places where you are likely to see them often (bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, etc.). Or perhaps, enlist the help of a friend. You can write these little notes to each other and leave them in places where they are sure to be found.
Practice meditation and/or prayer
In the West, the techniques of meditation are often extracted from their Eastern religious traditions and provide simple methods for focus and concentration. A by-product of this focus is stress reduction. Meditation techniques have been shown to be effective in reducing heart rate and blood pressure, two common indicators of stress. Prayer can be used by those who are comfortable in a religious context. Prayer also allows focus (on God or on specific words of wisdom) and, as a result, often leads to a reduction in stress levels.


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