Stress Management

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“Stress is not what happens to us. It is our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose.” This sagacious saying was quoted by Dr. Maureen Killoran, a certified universalist and an advocate on health and wellness. The quotation imparts to us that stress is not altogether negative as what most people would think at first. It still depends on how an individual sees and copes with the stress placed upon him. If you perceive potentially stressful events as a challenge instead of a threat, less stress will most likely result. Stress does not have to control your life because it can be managed.

However, stress, it seems, knows no age, race, gender, religion, nationality, or socio-economic class. For this reason, it is called “the equal opportunity destroyer,” for when left unresolved, stress can undermine all aspects of your life. (Seaward, 2006) Although it may seem that stress becomes a critical mass in your life once you leave home and get to college, the truth is that manifestations associated with stress started much earlier than college years. It is just that, the peak of the most stressful events in your life happens in college.

College students, especially freshmen, are a group particularly prone to stress due to the transitional nature of college life. (Ross, 1999) As one shifts from the known towards the unknown, stressors of all sorts may be experienced by a typical college student. Pressures in college, as evidenced by academic deadlines, professional pursuits, financial matters, peer pressure, and relationships, never fail to make a student’s way to the real battlefield seem insurmountable. Stress is ubiquitous, and many students may require support in developing resilience. Rather than focusing all efforts on removing stressors, programs designed to enhance students’ ability to cope are needed. (Sawatzky, 2012) And this is where stress management comes to the scene.

Stress management is a system whose goal is not to eliminate all stress but to limit the harmful effects of stress while maintaining life’s quality and vitality. (Greenberg, 2011) Although stress encompasses a whole spectrum of factors and emotions which may take a heavy toll of human life, it would certainly be dull if all of these stressors were eliminated. And so, an individual must aim to utilize his energies not to terminate, but to facilitate and manage stress.

Statement of the Problem This study aims to ascertain the stress management techniques employed by the FEU BS Accountancy students in their college life.

1. What is the demographic data of the FEU BS Accountancy students as to: a. Age

b. Gender

c. Year

d. Affiliations

e. Residence

2. What are the respondents’ definitions of stress?

3. What are the common stressors affecting the respondents?

4. What are the respondents’ reactions and response when under stress?

5. What are the respondents’ techniques in managing stress?

Significance of the Study The results of the study are deemed significant to the following: College students. This study will impart awareness of the effective ways to reduce the stress they experience in their scholarly life after identifying the common stressors they have to endure. Incoming college students. This study will equip them with knowledge regarding some pressures or stressors associated with college life and the stress management they can emulate as they move to the challenging world of college.

Researchers. This research can be of use to personally gain information about existing stress management techniques they can apply to their daily lives. Parents. This research may be utilized for them to give full support and guidance to their children as they strive to win over the obstacles they may come across in college. Future researchers. This study can be a basis in conducting the next researches related to this topic and can be replicated using other groups of respondents to validate the results of this study.

Scope and Limitations of the Study This study is limited to one institution of higher learning, the Far Eastern University (FEU), Manila. The limitation of the study was dictated by stress management techniques practiced by the BS Accountancy students of the respondent university.

The FEU students typify the students from other universities, insofar as college life is concerned. College life seems to overburden students with stressors of all sorts, most especially academic endeavors. And so, stress management is vital in facilitating all these pressures.

For the purpose of limitation and validity, the respondents of this study include solely the students enrolled in FEU for the first semester of A.Y. 2012-2013. This study focuses on the definition of stress as perceived by the respondents, the common stressors affecting their performance, their reactions and responses when under stress, and their techniques in managing stress.

Analyses of the enumerated stressors and stress management techniques were made as a gauge to determine the stress management practiced by the FEU students.

Definition of Terms The following terms are defined in order to maintain a common line of thought between the researchers and the readers. Distress means negative stress or stress that diminishes the quality of life which is commonly associated with diseases, illness, and mal-adaption.

Eustress means positive stress or stress that enhances quality of life. Mechanism is an instrument or a process, physical or mental, by which something is done/comes into being or a usually unconscious mental and emotional pattern that shapes behavior in a given situation or environment.

Physiological is something being in accord with or characteristic of the normal functioning of a living organism. Psychological is something that is of, relating to, or arising from the mind or emotions. Strain is the physical, psychological, and behavioral outcomes of stress reactivity. Stress is used to describe the level of tension people feel is placed on their minds and souls by the demands of their lives. Stress Management refers to the amelioration of stress and especially chronic stress often for the purpose of improving everyday functioning. Stress Reactivity refers to the fight-or-flight response or the body’s stress reaction that includes an increase in heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and serum cholesterol. Stressor is a stimulus, whether real or imagined, with the potential for triggering and producing stress.

In the attempt to describe the present status of the subject of this study, a review of related literature and studies is hereunder presented. The relevant foreign and local materials synthesized as follows have helped the researcher in developing the research framework and in clarifying the directions of the present study.

Published Foreign Literature

Below is the summary of materials published internationally and compiled in order to support this study. Hans Selye, the originator of the stress theory, described stress as a non-specific response of the body to any demand made on it. (Selye, 1957) Therefore, the effects of stress vary in each individual and merely depend on the person who encounters it. Richard Lazarus, a noted researcher, defined stress as a state of anxiety produced when events and responsibilities exceed one’s coping abilities. Physiologically speaking, stress is defined as a rate of wear and tear on the body. (Seaward, 2006) In addition to this, Lazarus’ and Selye’s definition have been expanded as follows.

Stress is the inability to cope with perceived (real or imagined) threat to one’s mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, which results in a series of physiological responses and adaptations. (Seaward, p.5) Thus, the amount of stress experienced by a person depends on how he perceives the pressures and demands placed upon him, all of which may elicit a response and affect the individual in one way or another.

Greenberg (2011) compiled the different types of stressors encountered by an individual. Some are environmental, psychological, sociological, and philosophical. This variation ascertains that Selye’s description for stress as “non-specific response” is very reasonable. Thus to a person, what might seem to be a threat to him may not even merit a second thought to another individual. It revealed that though similar amount of stress is placed upon two persons, they still have differences on how they handle them.

There are a lot of definitions and concepts associated with stress. Some are: 1. a very complex phenomenon affecting the whole person, not just the physical body, and that involves a host of factors, some of which may not yet even be recognized by scholars and researchers. (Seaward, 2006) 2. Combination of a stressor, stress reactivity, and strain (Greenberg, 2011).

Stress is ubiquitous, and many students may require support in developing resilience. Rather than focusing all efforts on removing stressors, programs designed to enhance students’ ability to cope are needed. (Sawatsky et al, 2012). This states that stress is inevitable for students and one must identify its sources and effects and later on, be able to overcome it in his/her own way.

As an individual advances from one stage of life to another, a significant realization that with the freedom of choices he has comes the responsibilities that go with it, is being pondered upon especially by college students. College experience is one in which you move from a period of dependence to independence. And for that, the list of college stressors he experiences rather startling. Here are some as listed by Seaward. (2006) Professional Pursuits. This arises from the question “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” and is further compounded when there is parental pressure to more toward specific career or the desire to please one’s parents by picking a major they like for you. Academic Deadlines. Academics mean taking midterms and finals, writing research papers, and completing projects.

With all of these to accomplish and comply with, there is an ever present danger that not meeting expectations can result in poor grades. Financial Matters. The cost of a college education is ever skyrocketing, and the pressure to pay off school fees within the semester can make a student feel like indentured servant, and adds up to his dilemma of budgeting his own money. Lifestyle Behaviors. Independence from parental control means balancing freedom with responsibility. Stress enters with a vengeance when freedom and responsibility are not balanced. Peer pressure and relationships. Stress arises when actions of the group are incongruent with one’s own philosophies and values. Also, from the great need to be accepted by new acquaintances, comes the peer pressure and the realization that everyone is entitled to be your good friend.

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