Ways We Can Cope with Stress | Relaxation Training | Vulnerability to Stress Quiz
Stressors are events (real or imagined) or conditions in our lives that cause us to experience stress. They can be positive or negative life events that are physical, emotional, intellectual, social, economic, or spiritual in nature.
Human relationships are life’s greatest stressors, even for high pressure graduate students. Despite all the work required by graduate students, many times the hardest parts of our lives involve relationships with our loved ones.
Listed below are some stressors taken from Drs. Holmes and Rahe’s social readjustment scale, that we may experience during our time in graduate school:
- Death of close family member
- Personal injury or illness
- Change in health of family member
- Gain of new family member
- Change in financial state
- Death of close friend
- Change to different line of work
- Change in responsibilities at work
- Outstanding personal achievement
- Begin or end school
- Change in work hours
- Change in residence
- Change in social activities
- Change in sleeping habits
The stress response is the body’s natural physical reaction to our environment that helps us to survive danger.
Most of our present day stressors are not physical in nature, yet our reaction to these events is a physical activation of our body. Example: Sitting in traffic causes our muscles to tense, our heart rate to increase, and our face to become flushed.
Even after the immediate removal of the stressor, our bodies stay activated until we are able to counteract the stress response and bring ourselves back to baseline.
Stress is intended to activate the body so we can perform at a higher level. However, stress becomes dangerous when we experience it for prolonged periods of time or in excessive quantities.
Positive and Negative Effects of Stress
Stress is not always bad; a healthy amount of stress can be good for us. Problems can arise when we don’t experience enough stress or when we experience too much stress.
2 Types of Stress
- Eustress: A level of stress that has a positive effect on our body and our ability to perform.
- Eustress causes us to adapt to the stressors without causing psychological and physical discomfort.
- It is not debilitating and instead motivates us to complete the final paper, treat a difficult client, etc.
- Distress: An excessive amount and/or a prolonged period of stress that disrupts our ability to manage our arousal and leads to physical and emotional problems.
- Distress can cause poor concentration, memory loss, performance anxiety, headaches, immune system complications, and other health concerns. Distress is the culprit when we get sick at the end of the semester.
- Burnout is also common in unmanaged distress.