Stress

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Stress is something that has become prevalent in our society, more so now than ever before. Demands from everyday life have certainly increased, creating more stress in our lives and potentially affecting our health and wellbeing. The purpose of this essay is to discuss stress and the effects it can have on our behavioural responses. Firstly, it will give an overview of stress, as well as discuss physical and mental concerns bought about by excessive stress and factors that contribute towards it. It is important to point out that certain types of stress can also have positive effects on one’s health and well-being, although this essay will focus on the adverse effects. This essay continues on to discuss the unhealthy and ineffective behaviours that individuals adapt in order to cope with their stress. Lastly, it will point out some simple but effective ways of coping and common stress management strategies. There is much controversy and debate over the meaning of stress; in fact much academic literature related to stress has whole chapters on the different definitions. These explanations seem to differ from discipline to discipline and have certainly evolved over the centuries. A straightforward definition as described by Weiten (2012) “any circumstance that threatens or are perceived to threaten one’s well-being and thereby tax ones coping abilities” (pg. 71). Another relevant definition suggested by Benson (2008) describes stress as “an automatic physical response to any stimulus that requires you to adjust to change” (pg. 2). These definitions describe that our bodies react on many different levels when we feel threatened or perceive a situation to be potentially stressful. Stress is known to cause physiological, emotional and behavioural responses in the body. The “fight or flight” response is one of the bodies physiological reactions to stress, our bodies are programed to release specific stress hormones in the event of danger. Heart rate increases, rises in blood pressure and changes in breathing are all reactions that prepare us to either stay and fight, or flee from the threating situation (Weiten, 2012). Quite often our bodies have trouble recognising the differences between life threating circumstances and daily stressors consequently causing a build-up of stress hormones in the body. Headaches, heart problems, high blood pressure, and muscle tension are just some of the physiological symptoms bought about by stress (Hebson, 2008). Not only does stress have the ability to cause many physical health issues but it can also significantly affect one’s emotional and mental well-being. Emotions, these are our brains way of telling us if were doing things to “enhance or diminish our survival chances”, according to Lambert, (2007) (pg. 30). More Often than not stress tends to bring on many negative emotions. Emotions such as annoyance and anger are commonly bought about by frustration whereas anxiety and apprehension are thought to be bought about by conflict or pressure to perform. Many other emotions such as sadness, grief, jealousy, guilt are also known to be bought on by stressful situations (Weiten, 2012). When these emotions and stressful situations are experienced frequently, psychological issues such as, insomnia, sexual difficulties and negative moods can arise. Ongoing stress is also known to contribute significantly to psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and Post-traumatic Stress disorder (Benson, 2008). Many factors otherwise known as “stressors” can cause stress; this can include daily annoyances such as commuting to and from work or a difficult neighbour. Research has suggested that cumulative stress, that is, minor stress that adds up over time can also have severe adverse effects on a person’s health and wellbeing, (Weiten. 2012). More traumatic crises such as natural disasters, war or a major car accident can also cause significant stress. It is recorded amongst literature that these types...
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