Background on Stress

INTRODUCTION BACKGROUND OF STUDY Work Related stress is a major cause of employee’s low productivity in an organisation. Encarta dictionary defines stress as strain felt by somebody mentally, physically, emotionally which may cause symptoms as raised blood pressure and depression. It is important to recognise and address properly job-related stress because it badly affects the employee’s mental and physiological health. As there is so many resources for employees to perform excellent in their jobs but there are also some factors that hinder their performance. These factors lead to their performance negatively.
Newman and Behr (1979) defined job stress as ‘a situation wherein job-related factors interact with the worker to change his or her psychological and or psychological condition such that the person is forced to deviate from normal functioning. Some reasons for stress at the workplace could be; inability to meet the demand of the job, building and maintaining an amiable relationship with colleagues, management of subordinate staff, imparting knowledge to others and taking works from them, excessive work pressure to meet deadlines, inability to be creative, change of job, sexual harassment.
These kind of work related stress results in poor performance by members of the organization. Attison (2002) says stress is a major factor in up to 80% of all work-related injuries and 40% of workplace turnovers. Despite tremendous advancement in science and technology and availability of various sources of luxury, majority of the workers in Ghana seem to be experiencing moderate to high degree of psychological stress in various spheres of their lives.

Job related-stress is also a serious cause of mental health and health-related injuries. David and Cooper (1981) discovered that workplace stress has been increasingly quoted as the main cause of accidents, job dissatisfaction and other psychological illnesses like heart attack, alcoholism and hypertension. WORK RELATED STRESS Well-designed, organised and managed work is good for us but when insufficient attention to job design, work organisation and management has taken place, it can result in Work related stress.
Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. Stress, including work related stress, can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as more errors. Stress can hit anyone at any level of the business and recent research shows that work related stress is widespread and is not confined to particular sectors, jobs or industries.


The Effects of Long and Short Term Stress

The Effects of Long and Short Term Stress Teresa Mcilwain PS2150-3 Emry Somnarain October 21, 2012 What does the term Stress mean? Stress is a term used in many different ways. Stress also can refer to events and circumstances, also examinations that can cause unease; to the specific body responses to such events, like Rapid heartbeat; or the mind’s and body’s try to deal with in order to recapture a sense of wellness.
Stoklos defines stress as a state of imbalance within a person, drawing out by actual or bought on different enviromental demands and the person’s capacity to cope the demands”                                                     What is the Effect of Short Term Stress? Short-term stress or acute stress is your reaction to an immediate threat. Divorce or sometime as simple as a deadline is a threat . This is known as “fight or flight” response. The body is effected by stress is sleep disturbances.
Insomnia is one form of sleep disorder. Short- term stress can be back pain, shoulder, or neck pain, Stress can even cause tension or migraine headaches. Depending on the nature of stress, you could experience rashes and hives or even hair loss. Your feet and hands may get cold as your blood flow is redirected from your skin to your heart. Shortness of breath may occur, if you have a touch of asthma and can cause asthma attacks. There are many more ways that stress can effects the body.

What are the Long Term effects of Stress? Long-Term stress is the same as chronic stress has been defined by Pearlin as “the relatively enduring Problems and, conflicts and threats that people face in their daily lives. ” The most known bases for this type of stress are family problems with spouse, parents, or children; love or sex problems; job related or s can break down your immune system and make you very vulnerable to infection, including cold and flu symptoms.
Prolonged stress can cause then you can suffer from Digestive problems, like constipation and diarrhea. Most people that have lots of stress turn to eating that end up being obese problems; and any other competitive involvement. Long-stress GREGORY L. WEISS, LYNNE E. LONNQUIST,. The Sociology of Health, Healing, and Illness BYESTRESS,htt://www. byestress. com/byestress-articles/effects-0f-stress-on-the-body. htm


College Stress Analysis

One important factor of college stress on students leading to suicide is academic linked issues in college. Firstly, college means higher education demanding for a number of assignments, tests and projects which is just sufficient for students to commit suicide particularly when exams are round the corner. Every semester has two or more quizzes, group assignments and case study for each subject which is worth so much Of marks that you don’t want to lose it.
Next, world has become very competitive so in order for one to shine in that world requires a lot of hardwood to make homeless different from others. Everyone is in the race of being the number ‘one’. In addition, students give up hope thinking that if they don’t do well academically they are not worth anything, but they don’t realize that living with hope motivates oneself to be somebody in life. It is very hard for one to adopt new environment, new responsibilities and to be exposed to the world of competition.
There is a vast difference between school life and college life, for example, unlike college, secondary students are usually upon-fed by their class teachers that is everything given in hand by teachers whether its notes or any announcements. So to be able to adopt this environment is itself a challenge. Living with family means less responsibility on students’ shoulders Some students stay away from their families means more responsibilities which sums up level of stress in college for example, mothers usually chase their children around for food but living in a hostel or without parents means prepare everything by themselves.

Sometimes assignments really gets jammed up over the schedule that many students stay up late at night and study long hours and getting up early for classes. This is really traumatic. Depression is a very common form of stress among adolescents. It can be in a form of finance and life circumstances. Its one of the major reasons of the increasing number of suicides. Unlike schools, college expenses are much higher which some parents can’t afford, directly or indirectly it puts students under great pressure.
Secondly, we often ear or experience that students might not be able to clear examinations therefore he/she may have to repeat that subject or even the entire semester which is really embarrassing and depressing. Having mentioned it earlier due to some financial situation or life circumstances, student may have fear of being dropout from the institution. Many students do not understand how great an impact this stress can have on their happiness and overall behavior. Suicide has now become a trend caused by college stress which many adolescents follow.


The Body’s Response To Stress And How Do We Deal With It

Stress is a psychological and physical response of the body that occurs whenever we must adapt to changing conditions. And a stressor is the stimulus that brings about the stress response. For example, if you are scared of flying, airports may be a stressor for you.

Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis (HPA)
The stress response begins in the brain in an area called the hypothalamus, this is the point at which the perception of stress by higher brain centres begins a major physiological change in the body, it does this by stimulating 2 biological mechanisms. The first is called the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal system (HPA). When a stressor is detected, the higher brain centre send signals to hypothalamus telling it to ready the body for action. The hypothalamus does this by communicating with another part of the brain called the pituitary gland, stimulating it to release adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). ACTH is detected in the bloodstream by the adrenal cortex, and in response it releases further hormones called the corticosteroids. There are a number of corticosteroids each having specific effects on the body, like causing liver to release glucose, fatty acids and cholesterol for extra energy needed during stress. When the corticosteroids are detected by the brain it has the effect of switching off the stress response.
Sympathetic Adrenalmedullary Axis (SAM)
For the sympathetic adrenal medullary axis (SAM), when the hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is a part of the autonomic nervous system, it stimulates a gland in the body called the adrenal medulla to release 2 hormones called adrenaline and noradrenaline into the bloodstream, these hormones have wide-ranging effects but mainly to increase blood pressure and heart rate.
Seyle’s General Adaption Syndrome
Han Selye(1940) developed a theory which has helped us understand how and why stress leads to illness. He subjected animals to a variety of stressors such as injection, poison or extreme temperature and found that a similar pattern of physical responses could be observed, and divided them into three different stages. At stage 1 which is the alarm stage, stressor is perceived, HPA and SAM are activated, heart rate and blood pressure therefore increase.Stage 2, the resistant stage, the level of stress-related hormones and bodily arousal are remaining high n finally, at the final exhaustion stage, long period of stress (chronic stress) eventually exhaust the body’s defense system and its ability to maintain high levels of circulating stress hormones, stress related illness may develop. There has been an increasing body of evidence supporting a relationship between long-term stress and cardiovascular disease, 2 of the biggest risks are high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
Kiecolt- Glaser’s Exam Study
Research on a wide variety of stressors has shown that stress can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system. Kiecolt- Glaser et al (1984) has done an experiment on stress and the immune system.
The aim of the experiment is to see whether external stress can have an impact on the immune system. They did it by collecting samples of 75 medical students on 2 different occasions. First, blood samples was taken at one month before their examinations, which is a relatively low stress time and secondly, during the examinations. The researchers looked at each of the blood samples and calculate the natural killer cell content. The more natural killer cells, the more efficient the immune system. Finally they found that the blood samples taken during the exams were much lower in NK cells than the samples taken a month earlier. One of the drawbacks of this experiment is that it had a causality problem, we cannot conclude that the stress caused the reduction in the immune system. Moreover, there may be a sampling bias, the participants are students n it is possible that they may respond to stress differently than some other types of people. However, being a natural experiment this study has high validity and there are likely to be few or no demand characteristics, though control of extraneous variables was not possible.
Problem-focused method of coping
The methods of coping with stress can be distinguished into emotion-focused and problem-focused methods of coping. The problem focused way deal with stress by treating it as a problem and actively engage with it. This includes anticipatory coping by gaining information about what makes us stressed and develop a plan of action to help us deal with it, and seeking social suport, pit means identify events in the environment that are either causing or likely to trigger stress, then we can take practical steps to avoid or better deal with it. SIT, the stress inoculation training is developed by Meichenbaum (1972) , its a psychological method of dealing with stress by restructuring how we think about events. First the client is encouraged to reappraise stress, the therapist discusses the nature of stress with the client and explores stressful experiences that the client had in the past. Secondly the client is taught various ways of coping with stress, these would be quite specific and include general strategies such as relaxation. In the final phase clients are encouraged to apply their training to the real world. The stressors may be graded and gradually increase in intensity. Meichenbaum then wanted to investigate how effective his own SIT treatment was. So he studied anxious pre-exam students and placed them in three different conditions which are 8 weeks of SIT, 8 weeks of systematic desensitisation, and the controlled group which had no therapy at all. The efficiency of SIT was evaluated through exam performance and self reports by participants. So simply, if the students felt it has been sucessful and they performed well in exams, SIT was judged to have worked. Finally he found that the SIT group gave the most positive self-reports and outperformed the other students in exam. Some drawbacks of this study is that self-reports are not necessarily reliable , just because a person feels that something has not worked does not mean they receive no benefits from it. Moreover the study does not address “optimum treatment period”, so we cannot be sure which of the method is best, only that SIT worked better than systematic desensitisation if a treatment period of 8 weeks is used. Although SIT is neither a quick, easy or cheap method to mange stress, it is flexible and the benefits of it can be long term.
The emotion-focused way of coping
The emotion-focused method is one that provides stressed person with relief from their symptoms. Some of the techniques are defence mechanisms, which is a way of blocking out the stress, or they may choose to reappraise it, which means simply changing the way they feel about the situation. Drugs is also the common physiological method to use. The most widely used prescribed drugs today are benzodiazepines and beta-blocker. They are quick acting, but do not treat the cause of problem, they may also have side effects n cause addiction too.
In conclusion, the problem focused strategies aim to change, alter or even remove the stressful problem, while emotion-focused aim to control or regulate the feelings a person is having. It has no a very satisfying answer of which one is better than the other, each has its strengths n weaknesses and each works best in different situations. Different people with different personalities and characteristics can react differently to stress, so which method of coping to choose is depend on numbers of factors, gender, age, and even wealth may also matter!
New 2008 AQA ‘A’ Specification AS Level Psychology, Nigel Holt and Rob Lewis, Crown House Publishing Limited
Coping with stress