Life Is Stressful!

Life Is Stressful!

In the film we watched, we learned about the many negative health factors caused by stress. While knowing that stress is bad for your health is not news, I believe that many of us were surprised to learn how. Of course, some stress is good as it motivates us to succeed. Stress is often caused by the fear of failure and in an academic setting it is clear how having a reasonable amount of stress is healthy. After-all, stress is caused by the release of the hormone cortisol and as we have been told many times, hormone imbalance is natural. A college campus is naturally a stressful place at times; we walk into the library during mid terms or finals and can tell by the mere atmosphere that our peers are stressed. Often I feel comforted by knowing that the people around me are experience similar levels of stress and beyond that I know that others are comforted by the multitude of resources made available to students.

However, not everyone has access to support circles, and coping mechanisms that are so prevalent on current college campuses across the country. Because stress can be subjective, everyone responds to it differently and therefore it is difficult operationalize. It is not possible to say that person A is under more stress than person B because stress can each individual differently. Because stress is so hard to define, I grapple with how some areas have more support for individuals than others. So often we are hear “suck it up” or “at least…” but stress is a real problem and causes real problems. Due to stigma against stress and other mental health factors, such problems are not taken seriously. Stress can happen to anyone, anywhere and for that reason I see it is vital we strive toward creating more ways to help people cope and manage stress that is unfortunately, a part of life.  My question to you is what resources do you think should be made available across the country to battle this problem and how do you propose we implement them?

12 thoughts on “Life Is Stressful!

  1. I think my take on stress is, in a sense, less sympathetic. I do not think it is “unfortunate” that stress is a part of life. Stress, at our age, is what motivates us, gives us a small taste of reality, and shows us that life is not all fun and games. As members of HSSP, with many of us having aspirations of becoming doctors, we don’t have the slightest idea of what “stress” really is. Exams and morning observations aren’t operations or life-or-death patient situations. Our stress now is nothing in comparison to what it is going to be like in the near future. With that being said, I think we should embrace the stress we face from day-to-day. Like Kimberly said, stress can most definitely benefit us.

    As far as resources go to handle stress, I do not think that is necessary. Unless, of course, it is harming an individual’s well being. Stress is a part of life. At college, stress prepares us for stress in the workforce and in “real” life situations. Yes, exams and the UMICH academic life is brutal and no fun, but if we want to be the leaders and best, the future of health care, and the generation that changes the world, we need to learn how to handle stress on our own.

    This is our opportunity to prove to ourselves that we can handle anything life throws at us, hopefully preparing us adequately for life beyond Ann Arbor.

  2. I think you bring up a good point by mentioning people deal with their stress in many different ways. I think because of this, we need to be aware that there is not one general solution to helping people cope with stress (besides, of course, taking away the thing causing stress). I think it is most important that we are able to acknowledge when our friends and fellow students are stressed. I know it is very comforting for me to have supportive friends who know my responsibilities and the things that are causing me stress. I think that HSSP and the University of Michigan do a really good job in providing events for students to attend that help in relieving stress and taking our minds off of the stress of school. However, it is still important that we recognize when we ourselves are stressed and find a healthy way to relieve it.

  3. I agree with a lot of points in Grant’s comment. Stress now is nothing compared to what we will experience when we leave college and become fully independent. I also agree that stress can motivate us to improve and become a leader in a particular field of study. I would like to add that I think that coping mechanisms are extremely necessary. Everyone has their own positive ways of relieving stress and anxiety, whether it’s talking to a therapist occasionally or simply reading a book. If one does not practice and hone their own unique, positive coping mechanisms in this relatively low stress environment, they wont know what to do when they are finally exposed to the higher stresses of the “real” world. To answer Kim’s question, I don’t necessarily think more resources should be available than what is already out there. I just think people should find what works best for them that is already available to them.

  4. Class position has a directly effect on the type of stress, the intensity of stress, and the resources available to manage stress people experience. As demonstrated through the documentary Unnatural Causes, the higher the class position, the less stressed people are. People of a higher social class do not have the type of stress experienced by a lower social class, which primarily has to do with the basic necessities for sustaining themselves and their families. And this stress is constantly plaguing the minds of the lower social class. There are essentially little to no resources available to manage this kind of stress. The only way to alleviate this time of stress would be to work their way up the social ladder. Examining Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, each level is able to pose stress. People of a lower social class primarily deals with stresses arising from basic needs such as physiological needs and safety needs. People of a higher social class deals with stresses arising from psychological needs such as belongingness and esteem needs. When those needs are fulfilled, people will then deal with stresses arising from self-fulfillment needs. As people advance up the social ladder, the level of needs people experience and the stress associated with those needs also advance up the hierarchical pyramid correspondingly.

  5. I really enjoyed reading this blog post as I agree with a lot of the statements presented. College is stressful for every students even though the way everyone acts you feel like you are the only one struggling. This increases your on stress by a ton. Stress, just like most things, is good in moderation. But the way we saw in the video constant anxiety can have so many health related issues. It is unfair that people have to live in constant stress because it automatically means they will have decreased health. I had the misconception that many people hold. That most of the time is it the the person fault that they have a health issue because that person did not take care of themselves. But in reality a lot of times, the video made me realize they health issues are a result of the constant stress that people live with every day. In order to fix this there is going to have to be a public health revolution. As the video discussion American is spending so much money on healthcare and getting bad results. The money must be put toward helping people be in environment where they wont have cortisol constantly streaming through their bodies. This can be done by providing housing or higher wages and such things that a the biggest stressor in the poorer communities.

  6. I totally understand the viewpoint that Grant and Andrew have; yes, the stress we experience as college students may seem minuscule, but I still think that it should not be underestimated. As college students, it’s our “job” to study and earn an education. We all want to succeed, and feel the pressure to do so. In nursing school, we have assessments to perform on “patients” that we must pass with a 90% or higher, otherwise, we have 1 more attempt to pass before automatically failing the entire course, which inhibits our ability to progress forward in the nursing program. High pressure situations like those definitely cause me a great amount of stress, which doesn’t have to be compared to the amount of stress doctors or other health professionals may experience because these feelings are all relative to each individual.
    Stress doesn’t feel good, but it’s a learning process about how to manage it properly and plan accordingly in order to let stress motivate you, instead of impair your health. To combat stress, I definitely think there needs to be more common knowledge about the resources available to manage stress. The first step is also better educating people about the long term negative effects of stress, so that people are aware that they are not alone and can seek help if needed.

  7. I disagree with the comments that there is no need to expand care for stress, and that stress felt by many college students is not to the same degree as those who are independent or in more high-risk situations. Stress is not something which you can weigh by its precipitating factors: I cannot objectively measure how much stress someone is under in saying, “Jim has a surgery tomorrow, Sally has an exam: Jim has more stress,” because stress is a subjective concept. Every person is unique in the way they deal with and experience emotions. Jim, a budding professional, may be anxious but at peace with his surgery—which has the potential to end the life of his patient—because he has accomplished many hours of training. Meanwhile, Sally, a college student, may be struggling with a loved one in the emergency room while she lives with her parents who mistreat her in a home in which she doesn’t feel safe, preparing for an exam which, should she fail it, would set her back in her schooling, which places an additional cost on her and her family, who are already struggling to make ends meet, and she tells no one about her depression and anxiety because she is afraid of being judged. Unimaginably difficult situations such as this are faced silently by many of your fellow students every day. Just because we are college students does not mean that we do not have an idea of what stress “really is.” I understand and agree that stress can motivate and encourage us to be the best, but statements that more resources are not needed to assist with stress, and that members of our cohort do not understand the meaning of stress are points with which I cannot agree. People struggling with their stresses need help as much as anyone suffering from disease, and if expanding mental health programs to provide better care with easier access, whether that be providing government funded discounts to expensive mood-stabilizing medication or opening more therapy centers, can help one singular person who struggles with the weight of the incomprehensible burden of their daily life see their world through happier eyes, then I believe it’s worth the effort.

  8. I think regardless of your socioeconomic status, there is always stress, but it just comes in different forms.  Often, people use stress to motivate themselves and sometimes in their own professions, stress is an expectation that comes with that profession.  I believe that different people deal with stress in different ways and it might be hard to provide a resource for each different stress.  Workplaces often know that stress will show up in different ways.  My mom, who worked in an Oncology clinic when she was younger, was told that after a 4-month period that you would experience some form of depression because a lot of the patients you care for will experience a set-back (either death or a relapse).  The way to help the staff cope was often sharing in fun activities (usually involving food) on a weekly basis to keep spirits high.  While it couldn’t take away the stress, it could help deal with the stress.  Also, the social worker that dealt with the patients, had the duty of keeping an eye on the staff to make sure the morale and the stress were under control.  People deal with stress in different ways, so it would be hard to provide just one type of service to deal with all those suffering from stress.  While there might be different stresses for different roles of health care professionals, it is nice to have a resource to go to if someone is under a great deal of stress and needs some help to either talk through the issue or discuss ways of alleviating the stress, as well as having a check and balance system to help watch the stress levels.  I think the implementation of the system will dependent on the environment of which it is needed.

  9. I agree! It is vital that we implement resources to deal with stress in all areas, and simply spending time with others doing fun activities is one way to do this. As a college student, we have many organized events and clubs that we can join. In HSSP we have fun events planned which help us destress. However, it is true that everyone experiences different stress levels even with a similar workload. I have been extremely nervous for an exam while another student feels completely fine. Also, some people do perform better under stress while others are impeded by it. On campus, we do have many resources but I think they could be made more readily available. Workplaces could utilize a similar technique to college campuses help workers relax and begin to get to know each other, building a support system. One problem is that people with low SES may not have the time or resources to take a break from working. However, workplaces could still provide support services for employees or educate them on how to deal with stress.

  10. I definitely agree that there should be more resources and attention towards stress across campus and in other institutions. I think first and foremost, most people don’t differentiate from the kind of stress that motivates and chronic stress.
    The first form, most of us are aware of as college students. Especially as pre-health students, we are stressed with balancing our time and lives with the challenging courses we need to take to prepare for our careers in healthcare. We are often a support system for one another, because we can easily understand and empathize with one another since we are in similar situations. This kind of stress is often normalized in our society.
    But in comparison to chronic stress, most of us may not be able to relate. It is important that we don’t treat chronic stress, something that can seriously harm the well-being of an individual, with lower amounts of stress that motivates us. We can’t treat it the same because chronic stress comes from a lack of control over circumstances, while stress we experience from schoolwork is largely in our control. Deep societal divides related to race and socioeconomic status, to name a few, can produce chronic stress and can seriously impact the health outcomes of these individuals. I think to make progress, we must acknowledge the underlying causes for chronic stress and work to improve the situations for these people as much as possible.

  11. I strongly agree with you that a certain level of stress is healthy: especially in terms of academics. As you mentioned, however, high levels of stress often are not taken seriously, and many people do not have the resources we have on campus to cope with their stress. To answer your question, I think that it would be very hard to implement any universal system to limit people’s stress. Many people’s stress comes from a lack of control in their job, having a low income, or living in poor conditions. There will always be some people at a job with less control than others, make less many than others, and live in worse conditions than others. I do not think that anything will ever change that; however, employers could help to lessen their employee’s stress levels. They could be more understanding of the problems of their lower SES employees, and give them a little more flexibility with their job, provide better transportation options than the public transportation system, which is often unreliable and inefficient.

  12. I agree, stress is completely natural, but the only difference in it between people is the level that it presents itself and how each person copes with it. High stress levels can lead to unhealthy habits and severe health issues down the road. As a college student, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by stress. I’m sure all of us have experienced that feeling where we think that everyone else is doing better than we are and that we’re falling behind. That feeling sucks, and it just seems to add onto our growing stress bubble. Unfortunately, college is tough, especially at such an academically rigorous university such as this one, so stress is an inevitable part of the experience. Regarding your question, everyone perceives and reacts differently to stress, so it would be difficult to make a “one-size fits all” resource or solution to help all students. From my experiences so far, I feel that it’s extremely helpful and relieving to tell someone or write down everything that’s frustrating me to the point of where I honestly feel like pulling my hair out. I feel that I have made some incredible friends here in HSSP, so the best thing would be to have an inclusive and caring community to help with the stress levels.

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