How stressed are you?

I’m taking a psychology course because what the hey…. it never hurts to learn more. We’re currently on the mental health unit, which I am doing suspiciously well (hahaha). It was quite comforting when the professor started the unit off sharing his own struggles with depression during university undergrad. It took a lot of effort to not cry tears of gratefulness in class, or cry when remembering my own struggles as the professor talked about his own. I am so glad he did that because I felt less alone. If only I took this class two years earlier, and heard about his story and noted down the links for help he provided. Yes, he provided links and possible sources of accessible help/counselling!!! What an amazing and truly caring professor 😀 It goes to show, everyone, including professors, suffer from mental health disorders.

The previous unit we learned that there are legit methods for measuring stress. There are different stress scales for different age groups, because buying a house is probably not a stressor for college students, and getting good grades is not on the minds of adults in the workforce.

The first stress scale is for adults. It is called the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.
Link : https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_82.htm

This one is for college students. It is simply called the College Stress Test.
Link : http://highered.mheducation.com/sites/0073382736/student_view0/health_psychology/college_stress_test__/index.html

Holmes and Rahe is the main and most famous stress scale. It was made by Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, whom were both psychiatrists. They asked patients to self-report stressful events (stress scale) and compared their scores on stress scales to actual medical records to determine the average stress scale points per issues. This is accurate and has been tested for validity in multiple populations, they also accounted on the fact that some life events are more/less stressful on some cultures than others (such as weddings, some cultures have week/month long weddings; childbirth in a developed vs non-developed; entering university, and entrance exams; and divorce stigma).

Both measurement quizzes are pretty self-explanatory. Both quizzes measure how stressed you are at the moment. Levels of stress will always change, so the next time you take the tests, it may change. There is an average score, if you get below the score, you’re less stressed. And if you’re higher, you’re very stressed, and please take care of yourself! When you’re stressed you’re more likely to get the flu.

(Why does stress make you sick?)
Going on a scientific tangent, getting super stressed all the time and not relaxing makes you sick because repeated long term stress changes the way body deals with stress, in a negative way! Stress is an evolved human response from threat. Normally when we are stressed, our adrenal glands are activated which: 1) increase heart and respiration rate which then causes more oxygen in blood stream; 2) increase in cortisol which then causes more glucose in the blood stream. This repeated chronic stress cycle causes a constant stress response that the body must keep up which is called general adaptation syndrome. 

Why is general adaptation syndrome bad? There are 3 phases to this.

  1. Alarm Phase – the initial healthy response to stress as I mentioned above (increase in heart rate which cases oxygen in bloodstream; and an increase in cortisol causing more glucose in blood)
  2. Resistance phase – the body adapts to the high stress “alarm phase”; this constant state of alarm takes a lot of energy to maintain so to compenstate, non-stress related processes are shut down (like digestion, cognitive abilities, reproduction)
  3. Exhaustion phase – the body cannot cope anymore because all your other processes were shut down. The result is feeling burnout, illness, injury, and possibly death (eg. people being overworked to death, known as “Karōshi” in Japan).

Btw: I am not a professional, I’m just sharing interesting things I’ve learned in class because learning more doesn’t hurt! And now you’re learned why you tend to get sick after a stressful event, or why we catch a terrible bug at the end of exam seasons. Treat yo’self when you feel stressed; it is an investment for your physical health ❤

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