Life Stressors and Response to Stress

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The following essay will discuss numerous major life stressors but will focus on one of the stressful events, that the first-year student Enzokuhle is experiencing. The essay will identify and describe the major stress and focus on the type of major stress that the stressful event may be categorized as. This essay will also look at a coping response, that is unhealthy that he may respond with and discuss the emotional, physiological, and behavioral responses that he could experience.

Stress is defined as an individual’s response to situations that threaten or are perceived as threatening to one’s well-being and that thereby strain one’s coping mechanism (Weiten, 2014). This threat may be resistant to things such as immediate physical safety, reputation, and self-esteem. If an individual is unable to adapt and adjust to the environment this could result in stress. Stress may be identified by uncomfortable feelings, such as the feeling of anxiety (Weiten, 2014). The impact that minor stressors have on one’s life may be seen in the harmful effects that it has on mental and physical health. The extent to which minor stressors affect us may be due to how stress builds up. Minor stressors may have harmful effects on physical and mental health (Weiten, 2014). Minor stressors influence emotional distress, and they affect an individual’s mood (Bolger, DeLongis, Kessler, & Schiling, 1989).

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The appraisal of stress shows that how an individual experiences stress is dependent on what events the individual notes and how they choose to assess or interpret them (Weiten, 2014). Events that an individual perceives as stressful may not be perceived as stressful by another individual. There are two types of appraisals which are primary and secondary. Primary appraisal is the first evaluation of whether an event is perceived as irrelevant to you, relevant but not perceived as a threat or stressful (Weiten, 2014). If an event from your perspective is seen as stressful then it may result in you making a secondary appraisal. A secondary appraisal is an assessment of an individual’s coping resources and choices for dealing with stress (Weiten, 2014)

There are two subtypes of stress which are acute and chronic stresses and four types of major stress which are frustration, change, conflict, and pressure. Acute stressors are events that are threatening and that have a short duration and a clear finishing line. Chronic stressors are events that are threatening that have a long duration and no set time limit (Weiten, 2014).

Frustration occurs within any situation in which the search for some goal is derailed. This is when you want something, but you cannot have it. Frustrations can result in stress. Most of the frustrations are very short and irrelevant (Weiten, 2014). An example of frustration would be how big the transition from high school to university. The difference in the workload is frustrating. Conflict occurs when two or more incompatible motivations or behavioral impulses compete for expression. There are three types of conflict the first being approach-approach conflict, this is when a choice must be made between two attractive goals (Weiten, 2014). The second being avoidance-avoidance conflict is when a choice needs to be made between two unattractive goals. The third one is the approach-avoidance conflict is a choice that must be made when a person must decide whether they must pursue a goal that has both attractive and unattractive aspects. An example of a conflict would be choosing between finishing your essay that’s due on Friday night or going to see your favorite artist perform who you have been waiting to see your entire life (Weiten, 2014).

Pressure involves expectations or demands that one behaves in a certain way. An individual is under pressure when they must perform tasks and responsibilities promptly. An example of pressure would be having multiple assignments and tests that occur consequently (Weiten, 2014). Changes are adjustments in an individual’s living situations that require re-adjustment. Life changes are one of the causes of stress. Events that are positive produce stress because they result in change. An example of change would be moving to a different province (Hausman & Reed, 1991).

The major stressor that Enzokuhle is experiencing changes. When faced with change some people find it stressful and some cope well with change (Hausman & Reed, 1991). Enzokuhle may feel in distress because he is in a completely different world. Relocation may demand him to face new demands that could result in stress such as symptoms of anxiety and depression (Hausman & Reed, 1991). Enzokuhle may experience feelings of anger as his living conditions are different from the living conditions he had at home (Hausman & Reed, 1991).

Defensive coping is a defensive way of coping with stress that uses defensive mechanisms. Defense mechanisms are unconscious reactions that shield a person from emotions that may be unpleasant such as anxiety and guilt (Weiten, 2014). Defensive mechanisms do this by altering reality so that it does not seem as threatening. One common relatively unhealthy coping response is denial. So Enzokuhle may be unhealthy in the sense that he will stop being realistic about situations which will result in him being stressed furthermore. If he feels as if the situations, he is facing are too much for him he may go into denial (Weiten, 2014).

Constructive coping is healthful efforts that people make as a means of dealing with stress in stressful events. Coping strategies vary in effectiveness depending on the nature of the situation (Weiten, 2014). Constructive coping involves dealing with the problem directly, it involves looking at alternative methods of dealing with stressful problems. It is based on realistic appraisals of stress and the coping resources that you have. Constructive coping involves learning to recognize and in some instances regulating, emotional responses to stress that could potentially be disruptive (Weiten, 2014).

There are three levels of responding to stress which is emotional, physiological, and behavioral responses. Emotional responses to stress are how a person approaches stress from an emotional perspective. It has been discovered that there are connections between types of stressful events and emotions (Weiten, 2014). Various emotions can be induced by stressful events. The response to stress occurs within three dimensions of emotion which are annoyance, anger, and rage; apprehension, anxiety and dejection, sadness and grief. Individuals can encounter both negative and positive feelings during a period of stress. An example of an emotional response that Enzokuhle may experience is anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression can be a result of distress that may be caused by the change that he is facing (Pury, 2002).

Physiological responses often accompany emotions experienced during emotional responses. The fight-or-flight response is an example of a physiological reaction to a threat, this reaction results in the autonomic nervous system mobilizing the organism for attacking the threat, which in this case is the fight response and the organism fleeing the scene is the flight response(Weiten, 2014). The general adaptation syndrome is a model that shows the body’s stress response and it consists of three stages alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The first stage which is the alarm reaction takes place when an organism realizes that there is a threat. As the individual continues to experience stress this may result in experiencing the next stage which is the resistance stage (Weiten, 2014). During this stage, physiological changes alleviate as coping efforts get started. If the experience of stress continues it will progress into the third stage which is exhaustion. An individual’s resources to fight stress are limited, if the individual can’t overcome the stress, the body’s resources could be depleted. An example of a physiological response would be him feeling weak thus increasing his chances of being ill (Weiten, 2014).

Behavioral responses to stress may include coping. An individual’s methods of dealing with stress are essential in determining whether stress will lead to distress or not (Weiten, 2014). Learnt helplessness occurs as a response to stress, individuals believe that a situation or an event is out of their control. Individuals may blame themselves as a response to stressful difficulties, this may result in depression or other psychological disorders. People may also react aggressively as a response to stress. Stress could also lead to self-indulgence, individuals could end up engaging in drinking, smoking, or using drugs. An example of behavioral response is that he may turn to substances as a coping mechanism (Weiten, 2014).

Change is the major stressor that influences how Enzokuhle is experiencing events. He may endure stress as he lives in a completely different place and he needs to adapt to life as a university student. He needs to review his coping strategies to ensure that he can cope with this transition in his life to reduce the chances of him being stressed. Being able to deal with stress will minimize his emotional, physiological, and behavioral responses to stress.

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