Examining Stress and Well Being in College Students

Fast-paced living in the American society has become the social norm, however, it is destructive in ways of always struggling to get what one wants or needs to “”keep up with the way of living. The everyday reality of stress occurs in work, relationships, finances, or school. Due to stress being constructed in various ways through life, it is challenging to explicitly define (McCoy, Hutchinson, Hawthorne, Cosley, & Ell, 2014). However, stress does not always result in a negative form. For example, eustress is a positive stressor that enhances one’s ambition. On the other hand, the negative stressor that many endure, distress, disrupts physical states (Lazarus, 1993; Selye, 1974).

There are three distinct types of stress that individuals may encounter; (1) acute stress, (2) episodic stress, and (3) chronic stress. Acute stress is the most common cause of stress among people because it is the more moderate experience of the three. For example, nerve-racking interviews, minor car accidents, arguments, or low crime can create one to experience acute stress in society. It consists of minor cases of emotional distress such as frustration or worry, but also includes physical problems like headaches, stomachaches, dyspnea, or increased blood pressure. In 1932 Walter Cannon presented the “”fight or flight concept, also known as acute stress, which explained the psychological reaction in a stressful circumstance. He explained how the body releases hormones from the nervous system when the body is in a critical situation, which provokes the adrenaline rush of “”fight or flight “”response (Kemeny 2003). When acute stress is experienced frequently it leads to episodic stress, which is relatively more destructive towards ones’ well-being because one is living in continuous chaos. Episodic is commonly known within the “”Type A personality, which creates hostile environments from always competing and lacking patience in society. This leads to chronic stress, long-term exposure, in which ones’ life is threatened mentally and physically. The tremendous overload of persistent demands from chronic stress has been shown to exhibit body, respiratory, or cardiovascular issues (Amirkhan, Huff, Landa 2018). In addition, a study done to describe the psychobiology of stress (Kemeny 2003), evidence supported the continuous exposure to chronic stress can deteriorate the memory function of the nervous system in the brain if there is no solution to fixing the threat.

There are two distinct ways to perceptively evaluate stress. In a study done on the Appraisal Process, the research attempts to define the meaning of a stressor. which is described as situations that intervene with a major goal of an individual physically or psychologically (Folkman, Lazarus, Gruen, & DeLongis, 1986). In the first appraisal the individual determines the threat in a given situation, and if the circumstances are harmful towards the individual there is a risk of injury. However, if the situation is portrayed as a challenge the stressor potentially becomes valuable (Folkman, Lazarus, Gruen, & DeLongis, 1986). The Secondary Appraisal Process acknowledges the accessible resources for one to use in the given situation of a challenge, threat, or injury (Folkman, Lazarus, Gruen, & DeLongis, 1986).

Furthermore, the psychological appraisal of stress leads to the pressure-cognition model. Individuals experience pressure when they are expected to perform at the highest of their ability in order to attain a goal (McCoy, Hutchinson, Hawthorne, Cosley, Ell 2014). Like stress, pressure can be distinguished in two ways; (1) outcome and (2) monitoring. (McCoy et al. 2014). Outcome pressure occurs when short-term memory and attentional resources are inaccessible, resulting in the insufficiency to complete psychological tasks (McCoy, Hutchinson, Hawthorne, Cosley, Ell 2014). Monitoring pressure is more social than cognitive and leads to the incompletion of psychological tasks due to self-monitoring. These researchers determined that both outcome and monitoring pressure obstructed performance on memory dependent and procedural dependent tasks (McCoy, Hutchinson, Hawthorne, Cosley, Ell 2014). Ell and colleagues (Ell et al 2011) studied undergraduates to determine whether outcome pressure was experienced by the participants as stressful. The findings resulted in many respondents stating that social monitoring was relatively more stressful than the outcome pressure of the working memory (Ell et al 2011).

To further understand stress, a study was done on stress levels as predictors for life achievements (Hamarat, Thompson, Zabrucky, Steele, Matheny & Aysan 2001). For young adults, specifically college age recognized stress was a substantial predictor for life satisfaction than the use of coping methods. In conclusion in this study, it was found that young adults demonstrate higher levels of stress among all age groups; particularly older adults (Hamarat, Thompson, Zabrucky, Steele, Matheny & Aysan 2001).

Stress in College Students: Non-athletes

The transition from high school adulthood to college adulthood can be stressful for any individual, because it is the initial step towards personal responsibility. Stress is extremely complex which creates the word stressor(s) to be suitable for this current research.

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