Saturday, March 6, 2010


                                     RECOGNIZING STRESS AND ITS EFFECTS

Physical effects of stress
Stress arises when a real or perceived threat triggers a physical alarm response in us. The endocrine system, which governs the stress response, stimulates  our adrenal, pituitary and hypothalamus glands to release hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, testosterone and thyroxin) into the bloodstream. These  stimulate us into action, mobilising our strength, speed and stamina in the following ways – many of which you’re bound to recognize from your own experience of being stressed: • Blood flow is instantly directed away from the skin, digestive tract, kidneys, liver and immune system, towards the brain, heart and muscles.
 • The heart beats faster, pumping more blood to muscles. 
• Blood pressure rises.
• Muscles tense up, ready for action.
• Breathing becomes fast and shallow, to increase oxygen intake.
• Pupils dilate, taking in more light.
• The liver releases stored sugar – levels of sugar, fat and cholesterol rise in the bloodstream, providing extra energy.
• Levels of platelets and blood clotting agents increase in the blood, to protect from excess bleeding in case of injury.
• Perspiration increases.
As you can imagine from this list, prolonged stress takes a considerable toll on the body. 

How to measure my own stress levels?
The more something changes your life, the more stressful it’s likely to be. Some student stressors are listed below (on a life change scale of 0–100):
• Death of close relation (63) or friend (37)
• Illness/injury to self (53) or family (44)
• Cohabitation (50)
• Splitting up (65)
• Getting back together (45)
• Pregnancy (44)
• Sexual problems (39)
• Large loan (31)
• Outstanding personal achievement (28)
• End of school (26)
• Change in living conditions (25)
• Change in personal habits (e.g. more/less exercise) (24)
• Change in working hours/conditions (20)
• Moving house (20)
• Change of educational establishment (20)
• Change in recreation (19)
• Change in social activities (18)
• Change in sleeping habits (16)
• Holidays (13)
• Christmas (12)
• Minor violations of law (11)
Stress scores between 100–199 indicate a mild life crisis;between 200–299: moderate life crisis; 300 upwards: major life crisis. That’s without exams. Adapted from Holmes, R.H. and Rahe, R.H. (1967) Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11.

Other effects of stress
So much for the physical effects of stress. Here’s how it manifests
itself in students’ work:
• Performance below par
• Muddleheadedness
• Exhaustion
• Depression
• Aggression
• Agitation
• Disorganisation
• Procrastination
• Forgetfulness
• Being persistently late
• Making up excuses
• Missing lectures, tutorials and deadlines
• Socialising too much

Misinterpretations of stress
As stress signals go, many of these are fairly discreet. Many can be mistaken for laziness. Consequently, students who fail to meet targets are commonly told, somewhat unimaginatively, to ‘get their act together’ or ‘pull their finger out’. They may even be the first to chastise themselves. Unfortunately, self-condemnation 
 tends to make us less likely to tackle a problem constructively. To do so, most students need to talk to someone and get help. Yet, very few students admit they  have a problem. Most suffer in silence. There’s a very good reason for this. As children, many students were routinely praised for being right, and blamed for .Why students being wrong. Success was rewarded with a pat on the back; failure,  with a sharp rebuff. When this happens to children, they very quickly put two 
 and two together and equate making mistakes with being bad. In order to gain love and acceptance from their family, teachers and peers, they learn to hide their weaknesses. They may even lie and cheat in order not to get found out. Although it’s an enormous effort for them, they usually manage to hand in their work and keep up with their course, albeit in a chaotic fashion. Then, there are students who cover up their problems so well that everyone thinks they’re terrific. The admiration they receive from others prevents them from fulfilling their true potential: the more they are praised, the more trapped they become. Once people learn
to present a polished mask to the world, it becomes very difficult for them to seek help. The mask may come to feel like an integral component of their identity; they may lose any awareness that they are stressed. Apart from spending too much time alone in libraries or at the computer, tell-tale signs are usually psychosomatic:
• Asthma
• Skin complaints
• Recurring bouts of ill health
• Stomach problems
• Bowel problems
• Muscular pains such as back pain
• Eating disorders
• Oversleeping (an escape from the difficulty of being awake)
• Insomnia
• Panic attacks
• Frequent accidents
• Hyperactivity or exhaustion
• Vomiting.

Stress Relievers:
Regarding natural stress relievers, i have already discussed in previous posts. Click here . Out of all, autogenics, is the best tool i have ever found. It takes a bit time to master, but when its done, its positive impacts are countless.

Conclusion: Therefore, its very necessary to catch or recognize the stress at proper time and act immediately before it grows and turns to mental or physical or psychosomatic illness.


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