Sometimes the self-assessment can become a challenging task, in particular when a person is so preoccupied and absorbed in everyday life with its problems, that he or she fails to note the obvious signs of something going wrong. For me, the results of psychological stress scale tests came as a surprise because they showed a very high level of stress. Both Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale for Understanding the Impact of Long-term Stress and the Stress Management Society test allowed to see how much impact the stress has made on my health and condition. It took some time to understand that many stressful factors can, in fact, take a toll on my body and health, while the symptoms, such as fatigue, irritation and inability to focus are often dismissed as insignificant.
However, it is very important to notice the signs of stress and bodily reactions to it to give oneself an opportunity to stop for a moment and see if help is required. Our body has a specific reaction to stress: “Faced with danger, the body kicks into gear, flooding the body with hormones that elevate your heart rate, increase your blood pressure, boost your energy and prepare you to deal with the problem”(American Psychological Association, 2013, p. 1). According to these APA guidelines, even a short-termed stress may have an impact, for example, resulting in stomachache, and acute major stress can trigger heart attacks and arrhythmias; the chronic stress may also lead to increased cardiovascular risks, coronary disease risk and depression (American Psychological Association, 2013, p. 1-2). It might be useful to monitor the changes in one’s condition constantly to notice the signs of stress in time and before the health is influenced, and it is definitely unadvisable ignoring the minor symptoms of stress or trying to block them with medication.
While major stress may sometimes act oppressively for motivation, the skillful stress management is capable of boosting motivation and provoking strong emotions that can encourage activity. After taking a Holms-Rahe test, I was able to see that stress factors are not always negative. For example, the test table included such issues as marriage, outstanding personal achievement, and gain of a new family member (Holmes & Rahe, 1967, p. 213-218), which are often positive events. Strong emotions are definitely related to stressful situations, but these events allow a person to bring diversity into one’s life. However, even negative emotions could become motivators if the stress associated with them is well managed and does not become a chronic condition.
The stress management and coping mechanisms are highly individual, but there exists a number of ways for dealing with stress that could be recognized as universal, and will be suited for everyone, to a certain degree. For example, to relieve stress symptoms it may be helpful to use relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing. An article on stress management also recommends using regular physical exercise and adopting a healthier lifestyle, trying to avoid stressful situations; and when already experiencing stress, trying to alter the situation or simply accepting it (Robinson, Smith & Segal, 2015, par. 10-40). However, it is highly unacceptable to use unhealthy strategies, such as drinking, smoking, taking medications or isolating oneself, as it may cause significantly more damage in the future.
Modern psychology has advanced a lot, and academic research and theory have experienced integration with practice, to help people in everyday life. Understanding basic psychology can actually improve the quality of life. Various techniques and simple everyday advice cannot change one’s life completely, but step-by-step alterations in the relationships with others, at work or school, ideas for time management, and mending of behavior and lifestyle can make coping with stress easier and the stress itself much more tolerable.
American Psychological Association. (2013). How Stress Affects Your Health. Web.
Holmes, T. H., & Rahe R. H. (1967). The Social Readjustment Rating Scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11(2), 213-218.
Robinson, L., Smith, M., & Segal, R. (2015). Stress Management. How to Reduce, Prevent and Cope With Stress. Web.