Stress is a term used to describe the physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses to events that are appraised as threatening or challenging . But for me stress is a mental or emotional distraction condition which is caused due to pressure in everyday life. Stress can have a positive or a negative effect on a person depending on how it is dealt with. Sometimes, stress can actually have a positive impact, providing the individual with extra energy to feel motivated to finish an event or get a creative mindset on a project to complete a task. For example, the stress an athlete gets before a game might help them perform better.
A positive form of a stressor, eustress produces chemicals that put us in a “fight or flight” mode and those reactions secure our survival. Unfortunately, stress in most cases is not helpful and can be extremely harmful if not dealt with effectively. For example, there are many students, who cannot deal with final exams. The pressure of the exam causes stress and the outcome is poor results. This negative kind of a stressor is called distress, the kind of stress that people usually are referring to when they use the word stress. Question 1 Stressors are events that cause a stress reaction .
An extremely stressful situation that I have had to deal with over the past year was actually reapplying back to university. Due to poor results, in university, I was dropped and had to sit out a semester and then reapply back to university. Coupled with my core issues of being “lazy” and “avoidance” to face issues / realities, I feel that I got into the dangerous loop of escape or withdrawal. Due to the withdrawal I began to miss classes and did not pay too much attention towards preparing for homework’s and tests and once I feel into this trap, I tried to evade these facts rather than take corrective actions.
Pressure, which is a psychological experience produced by urgent demands or expectation for a person’s behavior that come from an outside source , was one of the causes of stress which eventually lead to me being dropped from university. Before I went off to university, I had a clear set of goals that I wanted to achieve once I had completed university. I wanted to be an investment banker after my education but I was left frustrated due to my inability to remain focused. Frustration is the psychological experience produced by the blocking of a desired goal or ulfillment of a perceived need . Another scenario which caused stress was actually taking online classes. In order for me to complete my reapplication process, I had to take four online classes. The stress that was involved with these classes was also quite severe. I had to complete several assignments, tests and essays in order to do well in the classes every week. Not completing assignment resulted in overall percentages to fall, therefore I was under immense pressure to perform, which resulted in stress to perform week in week out.
A different type of stress that was caused was to find a good internship opportunity, to enhance my resume for future work. The competition in the banking industry is intense, with many qualified students applying for very few jobs. Therefore the selection process scrutinizes everyone so as to select the best candidates. Filling out application forms, preparing and revising my resume, preparing for interviews also caused a great deal of stress. Due to my poor results in university, I was scrutinized further by my parents on a day to day basis. They wanted to be updated on how my online classes were going and how well I was doing.
When I was back at university, they would question my results once a week but with the disappointment of being dropped they were forced to put pressure on me to perform, thus adding extra stress to my everyday life. Question 2 Due to my laziness and the stress that was being caused due to poor results I did not take care of my health and as I gained weight, it further impacted me by reducing my ability to remain sharp and focused as a person. I began to take comfort in junk food and eating large quantities, drinking sodas which I knew were extremely bad for health.
Before I went off to university, I was a very good squash player, but due to the resulting stress, I completely avoided playing or performing physical activity, for example going to the gym which in hindsight would have helped tremendously to channel my stress and perform better at university. A lazy body led to a lazy brain and my escape or withdrawal led to further sloppiness, thus adding constantly to the stress that I was already having to deal with. As I started to perform poorly in my academics, I stopped sharing my position with my parents and close friends.
Being an international student, all my friends were studying in different parts of the world. At first I kept in constant contact with them, but with the poor results, I began to avoid talking to them so as to not bring up the topic of academic results. I was lying to my parents about my results, mentioning to them that I was doing well at university. Lying for me was extremely dangerous since it is a vicious cycle, thus I felt that by reducing conversation between my parents and myself, there would be a lower chance of my lies being caught.
Due to all the stress that was being caused at university, my sleep schedules began to get erratic as well. I would stay up late into the nights, spending my time watching television or on the computer to divert my mind from all the negative events that were occurring. I began to have dreams, dreams that I have no recollection off, but they resulted in poor quality of sleep. I also began to snore which was caused party due to my sudden increase in body weight and also due the lack of sleep that I was suffering from. Question 3
I feel that under all the stress I was using several coping strategies, which are actions that people can take to master, tolerate, reduce or minimize the effects of stressors. Denial was the primary defense mechanism I was using, where I refused to acknowledge or recognize the threatening situation I had put myself in. In the literal use of the concept, denial was an extremely effective coping mechanism, since it resulted in me not realizing the dangerous situation I was putting myself in. For example, I took to eating food and large quantities off it, to help with my denial.
I also started watching television for extended lengths, so that I could avoid thinking about work. Another coping mechanism that I began to use was rationalization, where I would invent acceptable excuses for my unacceptable behavior. To avoid studying for exams, I would assume that I had enough knowledge about the subject to do well in them. This example is completely unacceptable, looking back now, since they were new subjects that I was learning for the first time, but with all the stress that I was under, I felt like it was a good coping mechanism.
In most cases, I feel that Identification, where a person tries to become like someone else to deal with anxiety would have lead to positive results for most people; I took to identification in a negative manner. I had friends who would also try to avoid working as much as possible and I began to mould myself like them, since I saw common patterns between them and me. The only difference was that they would end up doing well on their finals by working as little as possible, whereas I would end up not doing well at all.
Repression, where a person kept distressing thoughts and feelings buried in the unconscious was probably the oddest of all the coping mechanisms that I used to deal with the stressors. Although I knew that not studying for exams would end in me doing poorly in them, for some reason, I completely avoided those thoughts in my mind. It seemed as if I had not learnt from my previous mistakes and just kept performing them over and over again. My friends would keep mentioning that they needed to perform better in the next exams so as to raise their grade point average.
But it did not seem to make any difference to me, since looking back now; I feel that all those thoughts had been repressed by the lying and withdrawal. Question 4 Studying Psychology was a great experience for me, since it helped me understand myself so much better and the reasons for which I acted in the manner I have been acting over the past few years. Studying Psychology as a subject was not very stressful, but combined with all the other classes I was taking did make the overall experience stressful.
Studying and learning all the chapters in the text book in the short time period did also increase the level of stress that I was undergoing. The most stressful aspect of the course for me was actually taking the proctored exams, since I had never studied Psychology before; I was not sure about the method of questioning in exams. As my results clearly showed, taking the normal exams were relatively easy since I was not put under pressure by a proctor overlooking every move that I was making, but during the proctored exam, the invigilator was sitting behind me for the entire duration of the exam with no one else to oversee.
If there were other people in room taking the exam with me, my stress would have been reduced a great deal since I would have known that I was not the only center of attention. For the online classes I decided that I had to deal with the stresses involved in completely different fashion to do well on them. To help deal with the course related stress I started to spend my time wisely, allotting time to my studies, gym, sports and drastically reducing the time I spend on trivial activities. By adopting a healthier lifestyle, where I exercised regularly, ate healthy and got enough leep played a significant part in increasing my resistance to stress. I also spent time talking to friends and family regarding the course as well. Psychology is a subject that can be understood very well when discussing with other people. Talking to these people actually helped me understand the various topics I was studying. Talking to students who studied Psychology as a subject also helped in reducing stress. Understanding how to approach the subject, the difficulties I would face when studying the subject as well as the benefits of studying the subject really helped me put things into perspective and deal with stress better.
But most importantly, throughout this journey of taking Psychology, I dealt with the stress by being positive. Internally I gave myself messages as to how well I could cope rather than how horrible I was going to do. By remaining positive I realized that overall I was feeling much more energetic, happy and was retaining more information I was actually learning. Question 5 In hindsight, I feel that there are quite a few methods of keeping stress levels low. Daily exercise is probably the best way to become healthier and to avoid stress.
By exercising for even 30 minutes a day, I think it would help reduce tiredness from the stressful thoughts one thinks about and also increases energy levels. Even by displacement, for example, working on a punching back, all the stress and anger that might be caused by the subject can be channeled out reducing stress levels dramatically. Being involved with others, where they make new friends or join a social organization also goes a long way in dealing with stress. Developing a sleep schedule helps restore the body physically and also provides a way to manage stress during dreaming.
Eating healthy and having some fun I feel are excellent ways of keeping stress levels low. But for this course I feel that stress can almost be minimized by creating a “TO DO” list time management chart. Prioritizing things we have to do on a day to day basis enables us to get things done on time. Finally reading the Student handbook ; planner provided by the respective universities helps tremendously as well, since I gathered tips on how to prepare for tests and how to manage my time.