Effects of Unmanaged Stress
Stress is a common phenomenon, and it is an element of every individual’s vital functions despite his/her gender, age, or social, and cultural backgrounds. Traditionally, psychologists divide stress into positive and negative types. While a small amount of negative stress may provoke the development of protective mechanisms to the particular psychological contexts, unmanaged stress may lead to the significant deterioration of psychological and physiological health.
When stress is unmanaged, an exposed individual experiences great challenges in multiple aspects of life: professional, academic, and personal. Unmanaged stress interferes with social-emotional performance, decreases self-efficiency and life quality, creates barriers to the establishment of healthy interpersonal relationships, and hinders an adequate assessment of life situations (Lupien, Mcewen, Gunnar, & Heim, 2009). Therefore, it is important to distinguish between the permissible and harmless levels of stress from the excess stress and develop the ability to manage it. Stress is an intrinsic part of social life, and it thus is inevitable, but the effective stress management may help to avoid the exhaustion of individual psychological resources that may have substantial adverse impacts on life.
Psychological and Physiological Effects of Stress
Stress may also be regarded as a reflection of individual perceptions of the imposed requirements. Stress appears when a person feels that he/she is incapable of managing the imposed demands or threats to his/her well-being. Each person has distinct perceptions of stressful situations, and the similar stressors may distinctly influence different people. Thus, the manifestation of stress symptoms depends on individual characteristics.
Stress is associated with both psychological and physiological pressure. The psychological symptoms of stress include the reactions embracing a wide range of externalizing to internalizing behaviors, such as the stormy anger and elation or, on the contrary, loss of interest to interpersonal communication, apathy, and insularity (Lupien et al., 2007). The physiological characteristics of stress include multiple somatic and physical manifestations, such as migraine, ulcer, hypertension, aches, and pain in different areas of the body.
It was observed that the organisms react in a similar way to the various stressful situations: increasing blood pressure, increasing muscle tension, pupils dilating, and increasing hormonal activity were observed (Viner, 1999). In this way, the body prepares for reacting to the potential threat through escaping or attacking. In case the organism remains in the “high alert” state for a long time, the immune system and the internal organs become exposed to the adverse influence and, as a result, damage to health may appear.
Stressful situations provoke multiple neurologic and chemical reactions in the brain that largely affect the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, metabolism processes, and catabolic processes responsible for the release and generation of energy (Stults-Kolehmainen, & Sinha, 2014). In response to multiple stressors, CRH activity in the brain increases. It is observed that a small dose of CRH provokes an increase in motor activity while an excess dose of CRH leads to its decrease (Stults-Kolehmainen, & Sinha, 2014).
The excess hormone emissions caused by stress stimulate the sympathetic nervous system which, in turn, increases the amount of released rennin, a major element of the renin-angiotensin system regulating the blood pressure (Stults-Kolehmainen, & Sinha, 2014). As a result, stress leads to an increase in intensity and frequency of heart rate, sodium and water retention, increase in blood circulation pressure, and peripheral vascular resistance (Stults-Kolehmainen, & Sinha, 2014). Thus, unmanaged stress and enduring exposure to stressful situations may provoke the systematic damages and imbalance in an organism that may cause the development of multiple cardiovascular, neurologic, and metabolic disorders.
Effects on Self and Family
Stress negatively influences the emotional and psychological well-being. An exposed person becomes anxious, depressed, and angry more often than a non-exposed person. The enduring stress results in the academic and professional self-efficiency decrease, psycho-emotional state deterioration, social relationships derangement, and development of psychological impairments. Unmanaged stress makes a significant contribution to the degradation of life quality and development of chronic stress and depression, and in this case, the improvement of the psychological state becomes more complicated. In the attempts to improve their current conditions, individuals often resort to the unproductive methods of stress treatment, such as overeating, alcohol, and drug intake, etc. However, such methods frequently result in the aggravation of life conditions.
Stress and its consequences have especially significant implications in the context of family interrelations. The stress-related depressive or aggressive moods may cause discord in the relationships and may also affect the psychological state of relatives in a negative way (Patterson, 2002).
In this way, the emotional problems of one family member influence his/her close ones and increase their stress level as well. Moreover, the unhappy people often feel the excess irritation and have a propensity to the expression of aggression (Stults-Kolehmainen, & Sinha, 2014). It is possible to say that many cases of family violence may be regarded as the reaction to the particular stress factors. The caregivers’ inability to cope with the psychosocial stressors may result in alcoholism and family violence; emotional, physical, and psychological maltreatment that can provoke serious problems in family relationship and invoke the adverse developmental outcomes in children leading to the social-emotional impairments and behavioral problems affecting the maltreated individuals throughout their lifespan.
Stress may be stimulated by various external factors, such as working conditions, and personal or interpersonal factors that individuals face on an everyday basis. The level of stress impact depends on self-perceptions in particular situations and away a person evaluates different stressors. It is important to understand that it is impossible to avoid stress, yet one can learn how to overcome a stressful situation and manage it.
Stressors are the factors provoking stress, and they can be divided into two types: manageable and unmanageable (Ghai, Dutta, & Garg, 2014). The ability to distinguish between the stressors that can be controlled and those which cannot be managed is the key to the adequate and effective stress overcoming. For example, the manageable stressors are of interpersonal and personal character. And the unmanageable stress factors include such uncontrollable events as death, accidents, catastrophes, etc., and are interrelated with the development of traumatic symptoms.
At least once in life, each person experienced insomnia due to the intense emotional state or was in a short-term depressive mood. These experiences are the consequences are the results of unmanaged stressful events or emotional pressure (Ghai, Dutta, & Garg, 2014). However, greater damage to human health is hidden in the chronic stress provoked by the failure to cope with multiple stressors. The major symptoms of chronic stress are related to the habitual unsatisfactory health condition.
The substantial negative impact on psychological health is caused by the traumatic stress when the situation provokes a reaction of an excess power that surpasses the adaptive, psychological and physical capabilities and results in suffering and severe distress. The professional treatment is needed in the case of psychological trauma because the personal resources may be insufficient. However, a person who simply exposed to daily stressful situations can use his/her strengths and qualities inefficiently overcoming stress.
Human behavior is usually defined by physical and mental health, level of consciousness, adopted stereotypes of behavior, emotional and behavioral impairments, educational level, and others. (Lupien, Mcewen, Gunnar, & Heim, 2009). All these factors may provoke stress. However, it is possible to decrease the exposure to the manageable stress factors through the conscious development of personal qualities, and behavior control. According to Selye’s theory, stress may become an experience motivating for the development of positive self-identity (Viner, 1999). In this case, a manageable stressor becomes a source supporting the formation of confidence in control over difficult situations with the excess external requirements.
The level of stress exposure and its consequences largely depend on the individual characteristics and perceptions which define if a person can manage the stressful efficiently or not. Unmanaged stress negatively impacts individuals’ performance and provokes the development of physical and psychological impairments. To increase the effectiveness of coping mechanisms, one needs to be engaged in the process of self-training aimed to recognize the manageable stressors and manage the situation with the available interpersonal resources. In this way, an individual contributes to the maintenance of psycho-emotional sustainability, self-efficiency, and physical well-being.
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