Psychology of Physical and Mental Health
Stress is a negative emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological, cognitive and behavioural changes that are directed either toward altering the stressful event or accommodating its effects (Taylor, 2012). It can be described as the difficulties and strains experienced by living organisms as they try to adapt to changing or new environmental conditions. All situations that require adjustment can be regarded as potentially stressful (Butcher, 2012) Stress is the effect on the organism and is a dynamic construct because it reflects the interaction between the organism and the environment over time (Monroe, 2008). Stress is a reaction to a stressor. Stressors are demands made by an individual’s internal or external environment that upset the balance, thus affecting psychological and physical well-being and requiring action to restore balance (Lazarus & Cohen, 1977) The anticipation of a stressor can be as stressful as its actual occurrence and sometimes more (Wirtz et al, 2006). For example, for students the thought of exams can be more stressful than actually doing them. Selye (1974) suggested that stressors can occur in negative situations (e.g. for some taking an exam) and in positive situations (e.g. a 21st birthday party) therefor affecting the person’s physiological and psychological health negatively and positively. He described the negative experience distress can be damaging and unpleasant and the positive experience as eustress. If a student experiences eustress before an exam it can sometimes be beneficial as the characteristics are; heightened awareness and increased mental alertness which may result in better cognitive and behavioural performance (Rice, 1999). The sources of student stress
There can be many sources student stress which include time management (part time jobs, setting priorities, setting deadlines), financial problems, family expectations, family and peer relationship sleep, nutrition, weight, future goals, exams and social life. Stress can come from within the individual person. Being a mature student can cause stress, going back to education after being out of it for so long, relating to the younger students who are dealing with the dynamics of young adult relationships and emerging into adulthood can propose challenges for them. Stress can come from the students family, for example a divorce, illness, financial problems, death or new addition.
Stress can come from students community, the demands and responsibility of the student’s job - work overload, underutilization, job ambiguity, interpersonal stress (Riggio, 2009). The job can be time consuming and cause
lack of sleep which can impair attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently (Peri, 2012). The students environment can sometimes be stressful for example their commute into college if crowded, noisy, or the student is claustrophobic, rush hour traffic, the size of the college, size of the lectures, new accommodation, for some being self-sufficient and away from family support. “Due partially to stress, a surprisingly high percentage of college freshmen don’t go on to graduate.”(Scott, 2012). Murray (2010) study of Irish students found up to a third don’t make it to second year. Academic stress and the work load of college is much higher than secondary school, students could be going from a class of 20 to lectures of over 200 students. Scott (2012) suggested the more independent nature of the college learning structure could be a challenge for students. Facebook can also be a generator of stress, 96% of US students have a Facebook account (OnlineEducation.net, 2011) Austin (2012) found the level of desire for Facebook was higher than that for both alcohol and tobacco. Studies have found that students are using Facebook for up to 8 hours a day and...
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