Causes and Effects of Stress

Stress has a very unpleasant connotation to many people. However, many psychologists actually believe otherwise. In fact, they even think that stress can also bring about positive effects. They believe this because they think that stress is greatly influenced by how a person evaluates his mental and physical condition.

To help you understand the point more clearly, here is an example.

There are two individuals -- one is an experienced and awarded Olympic skier and the other is a senior college student. The former has to compete again while the latter has to take a final exam. Both of them will experience rapid heartbeat, difficulty in breathing, increased metabolism function, active sweat glands and many others. These are physiological manifestations of stress.

The psychological manifestations would be their focus will be much more concentrated in the present to the point that it is hard for them to respond to even the easiest questions without being irritable. Although, they both feel the same stress, there is still a big difference psychologically.

The skier feels ecstatic. He is ready for the challenge knowing that he can successfully do it. He is enthusiastic to demonstrate his expertise and he is very optimistic that he can win the competition. On the other hand, the senior student who is about to take his final exam feels hesitant, insecure of his capability and anxious.

Both of them are undeniably stressed. The difference between the two of them is that since the skier has gained so many experiences in the same event, he has also gained confidence. He knows and he believes in his competence in that field, while the senior college student has no idea what will come out in the tests.

The skiers positive thoughts are grounded with experience. He is ready to take the challenge because he has done this before. He sees the situation as something he himself decided to do based on his capability. The student, on the other hand, knows that he is not adequately prepared. This knowledge causes him to believe that he is likely to fail the tests and might need a retake.

Both individuals are unsure of what will be the outcome. However, they both have a different way of evaluating the chances of victory. Similarly, they also have different assessment of the possibility of failing.

After the competition, the skier might only win the silver medal award. This could already be disappointing for him. However, in the Olympics, silver medalists have big chances for endorsements and a good future. The young student, however, after failing the test will see his chances of getting into a graduate school shrink. In fact, he might even have to retake the class before he can even graduate.

This illustration only shows that stress is influenced by how you evaluate your external and internal conditions.

In conclusion, stress can mean two things. First, it is what we feel when we are about to face a challenge. We shiver, our heart beats faster and it is almost difficult to breathe. The second is, it affects us not only physiology but psychologically, as well. There is a combination between physiological and psychological effects.

The first definition is the kind of stress we usually experience everyday. The second definition, on the other hand, can lead to more serious health problems.

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