Stress Management Essay

Submitted By marielahnk
Words: 1506
Pages: 7

Stress is "an unpleasant state of emotional and physiological arousal that people experience in situations that they perceive as dangerous or threatening to their well-being" (Kalat, J.W. 1993). The word stress means different things to different people. Some people define stress as events or situations that cause them to feel tension, pressure, or negative emotions such as anxiety and anger. Others view stress as the response to these situations. This response includes physiological changes-such as increased heart rate and muscle tension-as well as emotional and behavioral changes. However, most psychologists regard stress as a process involving a person's interpretation and response to a threatening event. Stress is a common experience, and there are many different things that cause stress. We may feel stress when we are very busy, have important deadlines to meet, or have too little time to finish all of our daily errands. Often people experience stress due to problems at work or in social relationships. Some people may be feel stressed in situations involving the threat of failure. For example one may be stressed if you have a big term paper due and you want to do your best to get a good grade. Others have extreme fears of objects or things associated with physical threats such as illness, storms, or flying in an airplane, and become stressed when they encounter or even think about these events, or major life events, such as the death of a loved one, can cause severe stress. Stress can have both positive and negative effects. Stress is a normal, adaptive reaction to threat. It signals danger and prepares us to take defensive action. Fear of things that pose realistic threats motivates us to deal with them or avoid them. Although stress may hinder performance on difficult tasks, moderate stress seems to improve motivation and performance on less complex tasks (Smith, M. 2011). However, if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can have bad effects. Stress is linked to headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, and trouble sleeping. Stress can also weaken a person’s immune system, making it harder to fight off disease. Therefore, it is important to learn how people can use stress management techniques to prevent or minimize disease. Coping with stress means using thoughts and actions to deal with stressful situations and lower our stress levels. Many people have a characteristic way of coping with stress based on their personality. People who cope well with stress tend to believe they can personally influence what happens to them. They usually make more positive statements about themselves, resist frustration, remain optimistic, and persevere even under extremely adverse circumstances. Most importantly, they choose the appropriate strategies to cope with the stressors they confront. Conversely, people who cope poorly with stress tend to have somewhat opposite personality characteristics, such as lower self-esteem and a pessimistic outlook on life.
Coping Strategies Psychologists distinguish two broad types of coping strategies: problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping. The goal of both strategies is to control one's stress level. In problem-focused coping, people try to short-circuit negative emotions by taking some action to modify, avoid, or minimize the threatening situation. They change their behavior to deal with the stressful situation. In emotion-focused coping, people try to directly moderate or eliminate unpleasant emotions. Examples of emotion-focused coping include rethinking the situation in a positive way, relaxation, denial, and wishful thinking.
To understand these strategies, consider the example of a premed student in college who faces three difficult final examinations in a single week. She knows she must get top grades in order to have a chance at acceptance to medical school. This situation is a potential source of stress. To cope, she could organize a study group and master the