Stress is the physical and mental response of the body to
demands made upon it. It is the result of our reaction to
outside events, not necessarily the events themselves.
Adaptive stress helps us rise to life's challenges.
Adrenaline, nor-adrenaline and glucose flow into our blood
so we feel alert, focused, and creative because of this
energy flow. . Negative stress occurs when our ability to
cope with life's demands crumbles, which leads to the
physical excitement and psychological fear or pressure.
Eventually this results in a permanent state of stress.
That initial buzz turns to worry, irritability or panic.
Challenges become threats; we doubt our ability to do even
simple things and problems appear insurmountable.
Different things cause stress in different people. Some of
the things students commonly cite as causes of stress
include: examinations, deadlines, returning to study,
pressure of combining paid work and study, difficulty in
organising work, poor time management, leaving assignments
to the last minute, out of control debts, poor housing,
overcrowding, noise, adjusting to life in a new
environment or country, difficulties with personal
relationships (e.g. splitting up), balancing the demands
of a family with studying, parents or problems at home.
Very often stress results from an accumulation of many
different pressures which build up gradually without us
Physically The heart pumps faster, making the heart pound
and blood pressure rise; some people experience
palpitations. Muscle tension increases, leading to
headaches, dizziness, jaw ache and even insomnia. The
mouth goes dry, digestion slows causing "butterflies" in
the stomach. Breathing is faster and less efficient which
can lead to over breathing (hyperventilation) and
breathlessness. Changes in the flow of blood to the skin
can cause sweating, blushing or clammy hands and feet.
Mentally A certain amount of stress can be mentally
stimulating but too much can affect our thinking ability.
Thoughts may become jumbled and confused. Thinking becomes
focused on worrying. We may become preoccupied with
problems. It becomes much harder to make decisions or find
solutions to problems.Thinking negatively and fearing the
worst increases worry and stress.
Emotionally People respond to stress in many different
ways. Common emotional effects are irritability,
impatience, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, self-doubt,
panic, despondency, feelings of inadequacy, insecurity,
hopelessness, unhappiness, emotional withdrawal and
depression. Behaviourally: Stress can change people's
behaviour towards one another. We may become less
sociable, less caring, more hostile and insensitive
towards others. When stress is accompanied by anger we may
become less tolerant, fly off the handle easily and
provoke rows. Many people respond to stress by eating,
drinking or smoking much more than is usual: some engage
in risk taking behaviour. Students often complain that
when they feel stressed they find it hard to concentrate,
feel tired all the time, perhaps start to miss lectures
and deadlines and feel they can't cope.