Stress Reduction Programs: Critical Essay

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Stress Assignment

As the semester draws to a close, many college students often find themselves in a state of distress. Students can be found juggling a variety of tasks such as studying for upcoming finals, maintaining a decent grade point average, completing assignments with fast-approaching deadlines, and catering to responsibilities outside of school. Students must learn to deal with the pressures applied by academia as well as many other obligations that can cause a great deal of stress. Situation and circumstance also play major roles when it comes to stress; the mindset of an individual influences how stressors are handled and dealt with. Since stress is a process where one must appraise, and respond to a threat or challenging event, it can ultimately lead to a multitude of both, psychological and physical health issues (Myers, 2016).

How exactly does stress affect people? Most importantly, what are the physical and mental repercussions of one who frequently experiences stress? An entire field of study known as psychoneuroimmunology exists specifically to understand body-mind interactions of stress and stress-related illnesses and afflictions (Myers, 2016). According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), multiple common symptoms and signs physically affect the body. Jaw clenching, or painful headaches; racing thoughts or being unable to fully concentrate or focus on the task at hand; feelings of isolation, worthlessness, or loneliness; increased edginess, irritability, and frustration; overreaction, and the development of compulsive and obsessive behavior (“The American Institute of Stress,” 2019). The list goes on and on, however, a couple of the most fascinating effects stress has on the body are the ability to slow the rate at which the body heals itself; and how stress can leave the body vulnerable and more susceptible to colds.

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Acquiring any type of major or minor wound when stressed will result in a decelerated healing time. Our healing factors are unable to efficiently keep up with the damage the body takes, wounds tend to heal much slower when facing a stressful situation. One study concluded that 40% of wounds heal slower before a major exam as opposed to wounds acquired during summer vacation (Myers, 2016). Additional studies conducted have shown that the immune system can be compromised by disease and age when paired with an abundance of stress; consequently, response time to vaccines lessens, which can contribute to early mortality (Segerstrom & Miller, 2004).

Myers (2016) explains how decreased immunity makes sense physiologically; energy is required to track and isolate harmful pathogens in the body and maintain normal body temperatures while simultaneously reducing swelling. Thus, if the body is diseased, muscular energy is reduced by increasing sleep and decreasing activity; stress does the exact opposite. Myers (2016) states that stress creates a competing need for energy; stress responses direct energy from the immune system to the brain and muscles during a fight-or-flight reaction increasing vulnerability to illness. Although stress is not directly responsible for making people sick, it does alter the immune system functionality which makes people more susceptible to infection. Although there are many effects stress has on the body and immune system; which can escalate a variety of infections and diseases, stress can also heavily impact the mind and the way people deal with stressors.

Stress is particularly good at “getting under the skin” and causing people to become emotional. Anger mixed with a pessimistic perspective and depression are common reactions that people who are highly stressed encounter. Myers (2016) tells us that when faced with a new challenge or threat; fear activates the flight, while anger activates the fight. People with Type A personalities (Friedman and Rosenman’s term for anger-prone people) have been linked to coronary heart disease, and stress-induced anger can become life-threatening if the problem is persistent (Myers, 2016). Memory is also affected by high levels of stress and has even been considered a risk factor associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease (Tatomir, 2014). A study conducted in 2017 demonstrated that time-dependent prospective memories appear more vulnerable to stress (Piefke, 2017). Stress is something that all people deal with in one way or another, the way people let it affect them is entirely up to the individual. Healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms alike, it behooves all to learn to control stress for health reasons.

Participant

The subject is a 29-year-old male, 185 lbs., an only child with Type A personality traits. The subject is an unemployed full-time college student and a father of two. The participant currently resides with his parents, significant other, and children, the participant practices unhealthy diet habits and claims to be under a great deal of stress. Family history consists of an extensive list of mental health issues such as depression, suicide, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, high anxiety, and multiple health problems including aneurysms, emphysema, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. The subject has agreed to undergo a week of stress reduction treatments while monitoring stress levels. Exercise and meditation will be implemented to help the subject deal with stress over the course of a week.

Methods

The daily exercise routine will consist of cardiovascular workouts, jogging, jumping jacks, burpees, sit-ups, push-ups, and weightlifting dumbbells and bench presses for 20-30 minutes when stress is heightened; exercise will be the catharsis of the experiment. The workout regimen is as follows: Jogging for 10-15 minutes, 100 jumping jacks, 20-30 burpees, 100 sit-ups, and 20-40 push-ups. Weightlifting: 40lbs dumbbells 3 sets of 10 reps, bench press 120lbs 3 sets of 30 at different inclines. Meditation will also be implemented in 10-30-minute intervals, the participant will distance himself from stressful situations; isolating himself from noisy areas, allowing the participant to become calm and collected. The participant will keep a journal on hand to document when stress levels are high and when implementations will be utilized.

Case Study

Sunday- The subject felt more alleviation due to the upcoming break from school, there was some moderate stress in the late afternoon. An attempt of meditation was made, to no avail. Meditation attempt included sitting in silence, however, the participant was unable to quiet the mind. The participant decided to implement some light exercising which consisted of two sets of push-ups; 20 reps. Moderate stress subsided after the exercise concluded.

Monday- The subject became stressed when studying for the upcoming biology practicum and presentation at approximately 4:45 pm due to hunger, and increased noise which caused the inability to properly study. The subject successfully relieved stress by weightlifting for 25 minutes. The workout consisted of alternate bicep curls using 40 lbs. dumbbells (2 sets of 10) and bench pressing 120 lbs. (2 sets of 30) followed by a meal. Slight stress was encountered later in the night at approximately 10:15 pm when the subject began to feel overwhelmed after struggling to get the children to bed. Another attempt at meditation was made, the subject meditated for 20 minutes achieving temporary stress reduction.

Tuesday- With the holiday fast approaching, the subject experienced more stress than usual, several times throughout the day. The subject was abruptly woken up by children; disrupting sleeping patterns, which caused irritability for the duration of the day. After the subject consumed morning coffee at roughly 6:50 am; the participant exercised to combat stress-induced irritability. The exercise was comprised of 100 jumping jacks, followed by 50 sit-ups; the subject felt as if the exercise did little to help with stress. The subject needed to acquire items from the store for the holiday when the subject found that most items were sold out, and stress increased around 1:15 pm. Since the subject was not home, the implementation of a stress-reduction strategy was not feasible; lack of relief ultimately led to higher levels of stress. In the evening stress occurred when the subject reflected on the list of assignments due within the next week, and the amount of studying that needed to be done. Close to midnight the subject successfully meditated reducing stress levels before the subject went to bed; the subject starts to grasp meditation induction.

Wednesday- Preparation of the holiday meal imposed on the amount of study time available to the participant which elevated stress levels. Stress levels remained high for the entirety of the day; the participant was unable to implement stress reduction until later that night. The participant meditated for 30 minutes; accumulated stress was reduced to acute levels.

Thursday- Stress levels were practically nonexistent all day, the subject enjoyed time spent with family along with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. The subject carried out stress reduction in the evening without being stressed; 10 minutes of jogging, followed by 15 minutes of meditation before bed.

Friday- The subject woke in a state of panic due to the lack of studying from the day before which led to escalated levels of stress; the participant relied on a brief workout to help reduce the stress felt at 9:10 am. The workout included dumbbells (1 set of 10 reps) and bench pressing 120 lbs. (1 set of 30 reps). The workout did very little to help ease the stress as the participant felt strapped for time. The subject studied for nearly 3 hours before conjuring thoughts of doubt that inevitably increased stress. The participant neglected stress implementation to study longer uninterrupted. Stress subsided after talking to a loved one and gaining reassurance after studying the session. At 4 pm the subject ineffectively attempted to meditate and concluded that meditation is best utilized during the night before sleeping. The subject continued to study while feeling acute stress; at 9 pm the subject meditated for 25 minutes diminishing lingering stress before going to bed.

Saturday- The participant found himself under immense stress for most of the day and well into the night; at 2:30 pm the subject went jogging for 15 minutes, stress was unaffected by the strategy. The participant watched his children from 3 pm to 10:30 pm, stress levels during the 7 hours peaked at a weekly high. At 5:15 pm the subject and children did 100 jumping jacks, followed by 15 burpees. Stress was somewhat alleviated when children grew tired. The participant finished the night with an extended meditation session which lasted nearly 45 minutes.

Summary

The participant underwent an entire week of stress reduction strategies, documenting the times, dates, and implementations that were utilized to reduce stress. The subject implemented a series of aerobic exercises, as well as meditation sessions when the subject felt stressed. When the strategies were properly applied, stress was successfully reduced. However, the subject faced difficulties when unable to apply the strategies due to the inconvenience of whereabouts. Thus, heightening stress levels; the subject became conditioned to alleviate stress when stress levels increased which resulted in both positive and negative outcomes.

Conclusion

Throughout the duration of the experiment, the subject’s stress levels started at a minimum and eventually escalated as the week progressed. The subject became conditioned to relieve stress when stress levels heightened, when unable to alleviate stress, stress worsened. Meditation worked best in the nighttime when the participant was able to isolate himself. The exercise proved effective and reduced stress levels; however, this stress reduction strategy was only able to be implemented when in the right environment. Stress reduction was not as effective towards the end of the study as deadlines approached. The subject will continue to implement the same strategies in the future to help deal with stress, the subject will also try other forms of stress-reducing strategies such as yoga, writing in a journal, and venting to a loved one. Stress is part of the daily routine in the life of a college student, although it is unavoidable, with the proper techniques it is manageable.

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Stress Reduction Programs: Critical Essay. (2023, September 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/stress-reduction-programs-critical-essay/
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