14 Novemeber 2012
Stress: A Subject That Effects My Life Personally
Tests, quizzes, exams, finals, work, finances, school, family and maybe a social life (if I am lucky). These are all perfect examples of my stressors and why I seem to have an over abundance of stress like the average american. Between the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we, as humans, seem to forget that we are all not machines and need to take a moment and breathe. Though, we have similar stressors and stressful situations we all perceive them differently and more importantly have developed or own ways to cope.
Stress is “the process by which we perceive and respond to certain events, that we appraise as threatening or challenging” (Myers 2010, 529). It is a process of reaction due to a stimulus known as a stressor. However, each individual deals with the same stressors in different ways. For example, we both may have a financial stressors of the same magnitude but it will effect me much differently than you. We both could have lost our well paying job with excellent benefits. However, I could perceive it as a sign from God to find a more significant well-paying job with better and more rewarding benefits. While you, on the other hand, could view this as another failure in your life and fall into a deep depression. Though we have the same qualifications and similar backgrounds our bodies and minds interpreted the scenarios differently. I became motivated enough to look for a better job. You gave up and became depressed. Everything was the same but our coping methods differed.
In my opinion, stress is not the major issue in our society. How we deal, or rather, how we cope is the problem most individuals have. Coping is the process of how we as individuals “alleviate stress using emotional, cognitive, or behavioral methods” (Myers 2010, 538). Coping can either be healthy or unhealthy; it is what determines the difference between feeling all right and feeling like a complete mess. There are two main types of coping methods; problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping.
Problem-focused coping is defined as “attempting to alleviate stress directly- by changing the stressor or the way we interact with that stressor” (Myers 2010, 538). I feel as if this is the healthiest out of the two. An example of a time when I used this particular coping method is when I registered for classes this Fall. The previous semester I procrastinated and waited until the last minute to register for the classes I needed. Thus, I did not get the schedule I wanted because the classes I needed filled up before I took the time to register for them. Consequently, when registration came around again I remembered how stressful my scheduling was the previous semester, so instead of having the same dilemma I, unknowingly, used problem-focused coping and registered as early as I could. I alleviated my stressor before it could even occurred. Unfortunately, this is not the method I usually identify with; I am more of an emotion-focused person when it comes to coping.
Emotion-focused coping is the method where an individual “attempts to alleviate stress by avoiding or ignoring a stressor and attending to emotional needs related to one's stress reaction” (Myers 2008, 538). This is my signature coping method in a nutshell and I am sure many college students can identify. This particular coping method tends to manifest whenever I have a major class assignment. The idea of my grade being determined by these types of assignments always tends to set off this type of reaction. Initially, I start off with good intentions; “I will start on this Sunday even though it is not due for another month,” I say to myself. Then Sunday rolls around and I say to myself, “Don't worry about it. You have plenty of time. You need to spend this time to relax, if you do that assignment now you will just burn yourself out.” Thus, I rationalize and convince myself it is okay to procrastinate because “I deserve it.” Subsequently, I avoid the assignment which turns into me forgetting about it. Procrastination at its finest. Therefore, I unintentionally used emotion-focused coping to deal with my stressor. I brought my stress level down for brief period which was effective. However, when my teacher reminds me of the assignment three days before the due date my stress is brought back in full force with a vengeance. I go through a rapid amount of emotions in response. I start to panic which turns into mild anxiety then I channel that into motivation. Then half-way through the paper I start the self-loathing phase for waiting so long and then promise myself I will never let it happen again. However, I rarely keep that promise. Unfortunately, we all have our methods of coping healthy or not.
Stress combined with an individual's own coping methods have the ability to not only make a person mentally unstable but also physically ill. This occurs when the stress and the stressors become to much for a person to bear and their coping methods are ineffective and unhealthy. In fact, the author David G. Myers confirms that “ prolonged stress mixed with unhealthy behaviors increases our risk for today's leading causes of illness and death” (Meyers 2007, 549). I fully support this theory. I experience it every time I procrastinate. My sympathetic nervous system immediately reacts. My muscles tense, my adrenaline increases causing my cortisol levels to increase, my heart races and I am in full flight or fight mode to finish my assignment. Then by the end of the assignment I am exhausted. Thus, if this is how my body reacts to a diminutive stressor I can see how a astronomical stressor could cause me to become physically ill, especially after prolonged exposure. Fortunately, I haven't had any illness related to my ineffective and unhealthy coping methods. However, I need to start incorporating healthier methods otherwise I just might.
Furthermore, I have concluded through analysis of the topic at hand and the analysis of my previous experiences, that there is a fine line between good stress and bad. As well as, effective coping methods and ineffective ones. I have also realized that some stress can be turned into excellent motivation. Where as contrary, an over abundance of stress mixed with seriously unhealthy and ineffective coping methods can lead to dangerous illnesses and even death. This assignment has caused me to look at my behaviors and patterns of procrastination, and realize how unhealthy my methods are. It has put the desire in me to want to become a healthier person when it comes to coping with stress in order to increase my life span and be able to live my life to the fullest. I just wish the rest of society could realize what a negative role their stressors and ineffective coping methods had on their health.
Myers, David G. "Chapter 12." Psychology. New York: Worth, 2010. 529-38. Print. Myers, David G. "Chapter 14." Psychology. New York: Worth, 2007. 549. Print.