138 Views

Stress: was once useful, now a nuisance

There are some words in the English language that have lost a little bit of their meaning. Many people have their own meaning and parameters for such words.

This causes them to become twisted in the eyes of many people, simply because in reality there is no exact definition for them.

This refers largely to matters of the human condition. Matters of the human condition, however, is an umbrella term that refers to all things truly ‘human’. Emotions, intelligence, and characteristics, for instance.

To put some sort of parameter on these matters of the human condition is nigh on impossible for the layman, not least because of the question of how to define a maximum for these concepts.

Stress is one such phenomenon that would come under this convoluted banner. It has a number of definitions, with reference to emotional, physical and pathological stress, among many others.

Some stress is undeniably self induced. On the other hand, stress is also an unfortunate collision of circumstances. But most is unavoidable, merely pains of daily life.

Unfortunately, stress is a phenomenon  that we are all too familiar with. It is an unfortunate by-product of an evolved ‘kick up the backside’ that is, or at least was, entirely necessary.

Stress comes from the “fight or flight response”. It is an evolved function that if our ancestors had a lack of it, the human race would not be here today.

The issue is that the stresses faced by our ancestors and present day humans differ greatly.

This response was evolved not just generations but entire species before today, and was originally meant as a defence against looming predators with big, pointy, gnashing teeth.

Today, for us students, it is undeniably elicited by looming deadlines. Whether one would equate the two is debatable, but it does demonstrate the fact that stress is most certainly relative to certain factors.

“Fight or flight”, the term I used to describe the stress experienced by our ancestors, is caused by the release of neurotransmitters, which act to shut down some of the more unnecessary parts of the brain so that energy can be directed to the two principle ways of fending off predators, fighting or fleeing. Therefore, one can see why this was useful millennia ago, yet nowadays it is simply a nuisance.

In neuro-scientific terms, adrenaline is released, shutting down a lot of the functions that our frontal lobe of the brain controls.

These functions would be deemed unnecessary for defending against predators. However, for us, these are more vital for the less life-threatening stresses of modern day life.

This then results in a lack of functioning for the person involved and, in turn, causes frustration at themselves and others, causing them to act out of character.

That is the mechanism in a nutshell, but to define the possible stresses in life would mean almost exhausting the English language.

The range of rational and irrational stresses in life are almost incalculable. It is a facet of one of the unfortunate by-products of the insurmountable complexity and variability of our human condition.

Typically, the main stresses in life can range from family and social issues, to work pressures and personal challenges.

However, the most formidable feature of stress is the way that they can build upon each other. Even minor stress can add up and become more difficult to overcome.

This is what makes pathological stress all the worse. By pathological stress, I refer to the unavoidable stresses from conditions such as phobias and anxiety.

So, those with what is known as ‘high trait anxiety’, are already on edge as much as someone with an important interview or exam that day, for instance.

Naturally, students can have a high level of anxiety due to their lifestyles. For example, this can be caused by late nights that lead to a lack of sleep; an on average high caffeine intake; and a typically high weekly alcohol intake are just a few causes of anxiety.

That’s not to mention the likes of deadlines, job prospects, and even money issues. The list goes on.

These can all lead to a high level of stress in life that is preexisting. This happens even before your bus makes you late that morning, or if you spill your coffee over your notes for that day. So, in general, stress avoidance has been highlighted as somewhat of a key issue facing today’s students.

The other issue facing students is the ideal built up of them. We have pressure to live up to academic standards by day and being party animals by night. This is an undeniable image that society paints a picture of.

It appears that these can never truly switch off. This can almost add a competitive nature to socialising to what exists on the academic side.

Several ways of dealing with stress are in the public domain. The issue is that many people seek to deal with stress as a whole issue, all in one hit. And, especially since stress can be caused by a multitude of issues, this becomes problematic.

Escapism is one such method, the idea that stress can be dissipated by relinquishing a grasp on reality almost.

Escapism can take many forms,  even video games have been extolled. The opportunity in a video game to create a new persona, live a different lifestyle allows a release of stress for many people on a daily basis.

The problem for those affected by stress is that not much is known about how to deal with it in smaller chunks. CBT, or cognitive behavioural therapy, teaches such techniques.

The principle is that stress and the anxieties it causes are brought on by a continuous cycle: a situation elicits an emotion, the emotion causes bodily processes that contribute to behaviour, and the behaviour influences the situation. The one part of the cycle that we have control over is behaviour and this is what is sometimes unclear.

Small changes to behaviour in stressful situations can really reduce stress. For instance, taking escapism to a smaller scale. Instead of relieving all the stress in one go, the logical solution would be to zone out for a moment and take a deep breath.

This simple breath removes you from the stressful situation mentally for a moment, and more importantly reduces the release of adrenaline that starts the process that I have described.

Little changes such as these actually allows activities used to escape stress and anxiety to become an enjoyable part of the day, as opposed to a necessary part of a routine.

Students affected by stress, anxiety, or other personal issues can visit the University’s free and confidential Counselling Services: www.sussex.ac.uk/counselling.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
706 views1
Campus News
706 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
157 views
Arts
157 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
180 views
Arts
180 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
172 views
Arts
172 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
212 views
Arts
212 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
217 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
213 views
Arts
213 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
204 views
Arts
204 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
327 views
Campus News
327 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
161 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
440 views
Arts
440 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
204 views
Arts
204 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
302 views
Artist Focus
302 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
210 views
Interview
210 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
285 views
Arts
285 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
324 views
Arts
324 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
363 views
Arts
363 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
263 views
Artist Focus
263 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
275 views
Books
275 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
354 views
Science
354 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
332 views
News
332 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…