Stress and Stressors

Sep 14, 2017 in Psychology

Stress is a life experience and any person at some point had to stress. Many times, individuals talk of being stressed anytime they experience unrest in their emotions. More than often, stress is associated with any disturbance in the mental alertness of one. At any given point, almost all human beings experience stress in one way or another. The only difference is how different individuals respond to it. Some are overwhelmed by the situation and appear to be more stressed than others. In the real sense, an individual who appears to be more stressed may turn to be less stressor as compared to the one who does not appear to be stressed.

For a better understanding of stress, it is important to define it. According to Ahmad (2009), he describes stress as a force originating either from the inside or the outside world and affects the individual. Causes of stress are termed as stressors. The manner in which one responds to stress not only affects him/her, but also affects the environment he/she lives in. On most occasions, people perceive stress as any negative experience. This is not the case if stress is viewed from a biological perspective. Biologically, stress can either be a negative, positive or neutral experience. In this essay, several factors related to stress will be discussed. Among them are such items as stressors, chronic illness caused by stress, the effect of stress on social class, the consequences of stress on one's position of work and the effect of stress on the genetic structure and fetal life.

Generally, stress is related to both external and internal factors. Some of the external factors may include the physical environment one lives in. With the physical environment, it encompasses one's job, the way one relates with others, the challenges and expectations one is faced with in life. Internal factors are those that influence the way one deals with stress. They include ones nutritional status, one's health, emotional status and the amount of hours one spends sleeping and resting among others. According to Taylor, any event causing stress is called a stressor (2007). Some of the common stressors include job-related stressors like, job interviews, a lot of work to be done, being unhappy with your job, working for a long period of time, working under dangerous conditions and being discriminated at work, commuting to place of work, among others. Life stressors include loss of loved ones, divorce, emotional issues, having a chronic illness, and increased financial obligations. Depending on an individual, the level of stress caused by the stressors varies. What causes stress to one may not cause stress to another individual. The way one perceives a situation determines largely whether it is a stressor or not. According to Johnson, stress has led to evolution of some organisms (2004). The species that adapt better to stressors has higher chances of survival and evolving into a stronger species.

Stress is a vice that needs to be fought considering the adverse effects associated with it. It has varied complications that can affect the stressed individual or those depending on the affected individual. Stress predisposes one to some chronic health diseases. Colleen (2007) reports that the most chronic diseases associated with stress include cardiovascular diseases, depression and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (2007). Other chronic diseases influenced by stress include cancer, sexual dysfunction, sleeping disorder, susceptibility to infections, heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and gastrointestinal problems among others. Colleen's (2007) study showed that stress triggers or worsens cardiovascular diseases and depression. With HIV/AIDS, the study showed that stress increases the rate of progression of the disease. It should be noted that stress does not cause disease but acts as a predisposing factor for the one to easily get some disease. To demonstrate how stress predisposes one to some diseases, Colleen reported increased depression in individuals with stress (2007). The same individuals were counseled by a psychologist until there was no more stress. It was reported that the individuals recovered from depression. The way depression causes stress had two schools of thought. According to Colleen (2007), one way is that stressed people have a poor sleeping pattern, they do not exercise and resort to both smoking and excessive alcohol intake. This predisposes one to multiple diseases. Another most likely way is that stress affects the immune response and causes hormonal imbalances.

Another grave effect of stress is its effect on the social classes and hierarchical standings. Any society at some point is always divided basing on the social class of people. There are upper class, middle class and lower class. The classes are mainly divided basing on economic capabilities of an individual. People in a higher class more than often have what they need. They are also in a better position to seek good medical care. This is not the case with people in lower class. People in such a class are not able to meet all their needs. They are also more predisposed to illness. As a result, people with a lot of stress mainly come from lower class. This happens because individuals may be in need of something but cannot acquire it (Johnson, 2004). In general, people from lower class are more predisposed to stressors than people in high class (Johnson, 2004). This makes them more susceptible to stress than the individuals from other classes who are less predisposed to stressors. The position occupied by the one in the social class corresponds to hierarchical standings. Just like the case with the social class, people with low hierarchical standings are more predisposed to stressors. As a result, more than often they experience stress.

Stress also plays a vital role in influencing one's work position. For long, there has been a fallacy where people only perceived stress in a negative way. As stated earlier, there are both positive and negative effects of stress. The way one responds to stress determines whether the effect is negative or positive. It is true that stress affects one's performance at any level. For instance, the positive impacts of stress at work level happen when, for instance, deadlines are set. One is expected to complete a given task within a specified period of time. Because of the deadline, regardless of whether the worker is bored or not he or she is motivated to complete the task. This is a positive effect of stress at work. Another scenario where stress has a positive impact is in the case of the sportsmen and sport ladies. During the time of the competition, such people are under stress and are always empowered by the flight-fright response (Taylor, 2007). There adrenaline surges what increases their performance. This only happens when one is under stress. Stress, as expected by many, has more detrimental effects on one's work performance. It was defined earlier that stress is the mental strain originating from either an internal or external stimulus. Stress tends to refrain the way an individual responds to the environment he/she lives in. Generally, the attention levels of a stressed individual are decreased tremendously. Individuals under stress are more likely to become poor time managers. They reach their place of work late and also their rate of performance is reduced. In addition, a stressed person does not relate well with his/her fellow employees. Any work more than often requires teamwork for it to be successful. Lack of cooperation among the workers as a result of stress will also lead to reduced productivity among the affected individuals (Ahmad, 2009). At a personal level, stress affects the way one thinks and does things. A stressed individual loses focus of his/her work. The ability of the one to remember the way things are done when under stress is impaired. In addition, the rate of analyzing new information is lowered greatly. A stressed individual is mentally exhausted and as a result he/she is prone to distraction. There is also increased tendency of such an individual being prone to making mistakes that can be costly. Stressed individuals are also more prone to headaches, dizziness all of which reduce the rate of work performance. In general, the consequences of stress at work performance are more detrimental.

Stress can also be experienced at family levels. The continued nagging of children may be a source of stress to the parents. It is the responsibility of every parent to provide a living for his/her children. Sometimes it happens that the parents are not in the position to meet the entire needs of the child. This acts as a stressor to the parent. Stress is, in fact, more for those parents who take care of children with special needs. Such children may be medically compromised. This will mean their health demands are so high. This will consequently transfer to increased financial burdens to the mother. This acts as one of the stressors. Children with special needs in some societies are perceived as being a curse. Children from the neighborhood may avoid playing with such kids. As a mother, this acts as a source of stress. The mother's social esteem may also be lowered when in the company of mothers whose children are not challenged in any way (Ahmad, 2009). This worsens the stress that the mother already faces. In addition, another stressor can arise from the mother herself. Many questions are more likely to emerge from mothers raising children with special needs. They may feel that their children are a form of punishment for the wrongs they did. This magnifies the already existing stress. Though as a result of psychological counseling, such mothers may in the long run accept their children, irrespective of their nature. For the children, it may be hard for them to accept the way they are. They feel inferior when compared to their friends. A mother seeing her child feeling inferior may develop stresses. The consequences of such stress to the mother may be to kill the challenged child if the situation does not get any better. In addition, such mothers may feel inferior in front of their friends as a result of having a challenged child. All the other effects associated with stress such as chronic illness discussed earlier may arise. This is due to chronic stress that the mother experiences. Some mothers because of stress may opt to take away their lives in order to avoid embarrassment and stresses of raising a challenged child. Another mother may take it as a challenge and devise ways of dealing with the stress.

As discussed earlier, the way one responds to stress affects the wellbeing of the individual as a whole. Pregnant mothers are faced with varied stressors. Some may be stressed when they think of the pain they will endure when giving birth. Others are stressed since they are worried of the integrity of the child they will give birth to; they were not prepared for the pregnancy among other stressors. During the process of normal fetal development in pregnant mothers under stress, vital physiological factors can be changed by environmental influence. This does not only stop at fetal level. The changes can reset the genetic setup of an individual (Johnson, 2004). This can last in one's body up to his/her adulthood. The reset in the genetic makeup of an individual that was upset may pass to next generations. This comes about in that the cellular environment of the fetus changes the expression of genes that cord for different tissues and organs. The changes may lead to long term consequences in the functioning of the affected tissues both in childhood life and adulthood. Stressed mothers may also give a birth prematurely. It has been shown that stress increase risks for premature delivery. Individuals born prematurely have higher chances of being underdeveloped in one way or another. Studies done on monkeys indicated that stressed individuals during pregnancy give a birth to a child whose motor development is impaired (Colleen, 2007). Such individuals in their adult will exhibit reduced cognitive abilities and will be more emotional than others.

The effect of stress on fetal development can be well elaborated using the The Dutch Hunger Episode. This happened in 1944-1945. The Dutch people were starving as a result of the Second World War (Taylor 2007). This stressed the pregnant mothers during that time. As a result, the fetuses that were born during that time after being studied were found to have some defects. The same fetuses passed their genetic defects to the following offspring.

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