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Causes and Management of Stress


Stress can be classified in three categories namely; Mechanical stress which is the average amount of force exerted per unit area, biological which can either be psychological or physiological and music stress. The paper I am writing will entirely deal with the biological stress. First the paper, defines what stress is, looks on the kinds of biological stress. Stress can be defined as failure of body to respond to demand made on it.

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Biological stress could either be; chronic stress which is persistent and may result to illness. Eustress, beneficial which can lead to improvement, then distress which is non- beneficial. It also looks on stress and its role on health, where it discusses on sources of stress and results of stress. If somebody is subjected to too much stress may fall ill. Different levels of stress have different causes and signs of stress. Some causes of stress include life changes, frustration as result of failure to achieve what you wanted and conflict. Signs of stress include; muscular tension, irritability, lack of concentration and some physical reactions, such as headaches and increased heart rate

Human body experiences physiological changes when put under pressure which may result to stress. “The sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system is activated, increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and hormone levels” (Selye, 1950). I will also enlighten on stress and some serious illness associated with stress which includes cancer caused by changes in body chemistry, cardiovascular disorder (heart disease) and post traumatic disorder. Finally the papers discuses some ways of managing stress either through personal initiative or intervention of the concerned.


“Stress is a biological term which refers to the consequences of the failure of a human or animal body to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats to the organism, whether actual or imagined” (Holmes & Rahe, 1967). An emotion is a mental or physiological state associated with thoughts, feeling and behaviors. Feeling is experiences of bodily changes.

The reasons why people behave in certain way can be explained by their emotional state such as crying or fighting. If emotions do not lead to occurrence of certain behavior, then we can say that the behavior is not essential to that certain emotion. We can say that emotion results to certain behavior which changes body feelings. There is interconnectivity and relations between mental state, nervous and immune system and stress can affect their function (Holmes & Rahe, 1967).

Stress can be applied in studying human perception and responses in trying to adapt to the challenges of life. When body is put under unpleasant conditions, it undergoes a series of reactions with certain stages. When the threat has been realized the body is alarmed and adrenaline will be produced to bring about the fight response. The body attempts to find some means of coping with stress as the stressor persists. The body may try to adopt the condition of the new environment, even though for short time period ( Davis, 2007).

It reaches a point where the body cannot maintain normal function. If this continues for a while long term damages may result especially when the immune system is exhausted. The result can be illness such as Ulcers, depression and mental illness. If stress enhances physical, mental functions of body is considered uestress, whiles that which does not be solved through coping or adaptation is known as distress(Holmes & Rahe, 1967).

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Sources of stress

Life without stimuli would be a tiring and boring and may damage ones health. However much of it may turn out to be much worse because it might completely or partially affect the functions of body immune system. Lifestyles are understood to be the main causes of stress, but changes in environment and food we eat may cause stress. The following are major sources of stress;

Environmental and job stress

Lack of control to environmental conditions may lead to stress. It may be due to noise, crowding, pollution or destructions. Working conditions may be unfavorable to for effective execution of duties. Stress from your employer or clients such pressure from management, interferences with your work and demands to meet set goals.

New environment different from the one somebody is used to may impose pressure on someone body system. Some kinds of food we consume contributes to stress experience, for example too much salt which raises blood pressure, food with caffeine increases stress hormones taking away sleep.

Fatigue and overwork

Too much or little work might result to stress. Keeping deadlines of work, new development at work place, changes in policies and procedure may lead to stress. Under-performance causes frustration and lead to more stress. If stress is not managed for long time it may lead to fatigue causing physical ill-health.

Internally generated stress

It occurs as due to social defeat or too much worrying of ones life. Conflict, deception, divorce, unemployment break up may cause stress. Ones personality affects the way in which one experience stress. Too much thinking of life beyond your control may also lead to stress. Other causes might be as result of desire to attract attention of all people associated with you, believe that event will turn out the way you expect them to happen and desire to be always confident. Other cause may be financial problems, ill-health and family changes such as death (Davis, 2007).

Survival stress

Occurs if someone life is threatened and might be tempted to react to contain the threat. If some one is exposed to challenging environments might get stressed.

“Chronic stress has also been shown to impair developmental growth in children by lowering the pituitary gland’s production of growth hormone, as in children associated with a home environment involving serious marital discord, alcoholism, or child abuse”( Huffman 2003)

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Signs of stress

Stress is as result of body undergoing several physical changes. “The sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system is activated, increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and hormone levels”( Davis, 2007).

Stress may cause short term or long term effects. Short term effects of stress appear as body tries to adapt to some physical threat. Some of these short term signs are; the frequency of heart beat increases, increased sweating, cool skin, cold hands, rapid breathing, tense muscles and desire to urinate. These signs are as result of secretion of adrenaline by the body. The adrenaline works in fight-and-flight situations, in situations where this is not the case it causes some negative effects such as; reduced enjoyment at work, inability to make clear decision, consumes mental energy and causes difficult situations to appear as a threat instead of challenge.

Long term symptoms result when body is subjected under adrenaline over long period of time. “One of the ways that adrenaline prepares you for action is by diverting resources to the muscles from the areas of the body which carry out body maintenance” (Lazarus, 1993). This means that if body exposed to adrenaline for long time, the health will deteriorate. The result is some long term physical symptoms: change in appetite, frequent colds, and illness (asthma, back pain, headache), aches and pain and felling of tiredness.

Also if one is under pressure for long time, he may develop the following internal symptoms; worry/ anxiety, confusion and inability to concentrate, mood changes, feeling out of control, lack of sleep, over drinking and smoking, feeling ill, changing eating habits and relying more on medicine.

Stress can also change the behavior of someone. The following kind of behavior shows one is under stress. Include; talking too fast, yawning, nail biting, bad moods (being irritable, defensive, aggressive, irrational etc), changing work habits, neglect of personal appearance and reduced personal effectiveness. Excessive levels of stress may render performance of somebody in dismay. If stress is not controlled for long time it can lead to fatigue, depression, burn out and breakdown.

Coping up with stress

In the process of managing stress, one should recognize his or her level of stress, learn ones stress signals and seeks ways of coping up. The aim of stress management is to keep someone in situation that is healthy and enjoyable. Stress management includes adaptation and coping psychologically (anxiety and depression). Long distress can lead to illness and to avoid this, stress should be managed to a certain level if not fully.

People under stress need to be equipped with techniques which would help them effectively deal with psychological stress. If someone copes with stressful situation then we can say that stress management has been a success. Stress can be coped by controlling its source, setting limits in our action and trying to say no to some demands

Fatigue and over work can be managed by observing time management strategy so as to have time for work and rest. Medication can also be used to manage stress.

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Depression is a kind of mental illness and one should seek medical assistance.

Exercise helps to reduce the production of hormones and neurochemicals, hence exercise ca n prevent us from the damage of our health by prolonged stress. Exercise also improves blood flow to brain, bringing nutrients which may be required when in intense thinking.

Distancing from drug and moderate use of alcohol are important in stress management. Many people when stressed tent to take more alcohol pretending to reduce stress, but facts suggest that their stress increases. Negative thing causes stress because it damages one confidence hence the need to change our thinking perspective to manage stress. Be realistic and understand that no one is perfect.

Diseases associated with stress

Cancer caused by changes in chemicals in the body that affect certain cell formation or environmental factors. If immune system is distressed the body may fail to check on cell division which results to cancerous cells.

Cardiovascular Disorders, These are diseases that affect heart muscles and that lead to heart failure. Stress is said to be the cause of many death associated with heart problems.

The level of stress in which someone is experiencing is very important: if one is under no pressure then his performance may suffer because he/she is unmotivated or bored. Again if one under much stress then he will under perform because stress related problems interfere with performance. There it’s important to recognize that you are responsible for your own stress and your thinking has resulted to the problem.

One should learn to manage his or her stress because effective management of stress can significantly improve life.


Davis et al. (2007). Prenatal Exposure to Maternal Depression and Cortisol Influences Infant Temperament. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, vol 46, p737.

Holmes, T.H. and Rahe, R.H. (1967). The social readjustments rating scales. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 11, p 213-218.

Huffman (2003). Psychology in action. 2008. Web.

Lazarus R. S. (1993). From psychological stress to the emotions: a history of changing outlooks. Annual Review of Psychology, vol 44, p. 1–22.

Selye, Hans (1950). Diseases of adaptation. Wisconsin medical journal, vol 49, p 515– 516.

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