Abstract This paper will discuss the complexities of stress, its potential causes, effective coping techniques, and how one can funnel bad stress into good stress. In addition, the paper will review the roll of time management in the reduction and possible elimination of stress and its causes. The conclusions and information presented in this paper will be the result of professional opinions and clinical studies. Once the reader has reviewed this paper, he will recognize stress and its components and the positive roll played by effective time management. Effective Techniques for Time Management and Stress Reduction Stress is capable of derailing the most focused person with its feelings of dread, anxiety, and loss of control. While it can have positive effects, stress gets its notoriety from its acute and sometimes chronic negative results.
The negative effects can range from acute agitation to chronic anxiety and from short-term physiological disorders to long-term physiological health problems. To combat these problems, it is imperative to one's health to reduce negative stress and its adverse consequences through various techniques. One of the most effective methods for stress reduction is a well-developed and disciplined time management routine. Stress Definition From an encyclopedia article from Encarta stress is defined as, "an unpleasant state of emotional and physiological arousal that people experience in situations that they perceive as dangerous or threatening to their well-being." ("Stress (psychology)," 2003). More directly, "stress is a complex dynamic process of interaction between a person and his or her life. It is the way we react physically, mentally, and emotionally to the various conditions, changes, and demands of life" ("Stress Management," 2003).
Stress itself can be divided into two separate types, positive stress and negative stress. While most stress is considered to be unhealthy and negative, there are some instances when stress can have positive effects. In addition, stress can be an acute and short-term problem or a chronic or long-term issue. Positive Stress Stress can provide positive mental benefits.
For example, an individual can use stress as motivation for personal growth and development. Stress also can be used to enhance one's performance. Increases in productivity or output may be induced by positively focused stress. In fact, "positive stress is actually essential and beneficial, and can be our strongest ally for leading stimulating healthy lives, filled with vitality and resilience" ("Stress > Positive," 2003). Negative Stress Negative stress is best defined by its negative impacts to our psyche.
It is the most dangerous type of stress because it can have severe consequences. Negative stress can be broken down into two categories, acute or immediate and chronic or long term. While the lifetime affects of stress are the subject of a number of scientific studies, one thing that many experts agree on is that "research has shown that stress is a contributing factor in a majority of disease cases" ("Stress", 2003). In fact, many cardiovascular experts believe that "emotional stress is a major trigger for angina. Incidents of acute stress have been associated with a higher risk for serious cardiac problems - heart rhythm abnormalities and heart attacks, and even death from such events in people with heart disease" ("Stress and Heart", 2003).
As opposed to chronic stress, experts also agree that exposure to acute stress affects people differently; therefore, it is important to understand the difference between the two types of stress. In addition, it is widely thought that unchecked acute stress can lead to chronic stress. Acute Stress. Stress is a naturally occurring psychological emotion that most people commonly encounter during the normal course of their lives. In fact, many people will encounter the more common type of stress referred to as "Acute (immediate), which can be a one-time incident that usually comes and goes quickly.
Its effect on us can last from minutes or hours to days or weeks. Examples of acute stress include narrowly avoiding an automobile crash, or a violent incident with someone. In acute stress, the body responds to a perceived threat. Your body releases chemicals that increase your heart rate and breathing and provide a burst of energy. This is known as the stress response or the fight-or-flight response ("Stress Management," 2003).
How we address and deal with these stress triggers, or stressors, will determine whether they will remain acute or be converted into less healthy long-term chronic stress. Chronic Stress. While acute stress can cause finite bursts of short-term emotional discontent, it is the longer term or chronic stress that is the most threatening to one's physiological health; therefore, it is important to understand chronic long-term stress. Chronic stress "can be caused by a continuing string of stressful incidences or an ongoing situation.
Examples of chronic stress include a difficult job environment, caring for someone with a chronic disease, or a state of loneliness. In chronic stress, the body's response depends on the severity and duration of the stress and how you respond. The cardiovascular system, the nervous system, and the immune system may be affected. Chronic stress plays a role in many health problems, including coronary artery disease, diabetes and asthma ("Stress Management," 2003). By understanding the possible side affects, it is imperative that those who suffer from chronic stress seek out professional help to identify its causes and ultimately control this type of unhealthy stress. Causes of Stress Stress is often related to environmental or physiological triggers.
In order to combat stress it is important to understand its potential causes. As noted earlier, "both positive and negative events in one's life can be stressful. However, major life changes are the greatest contributors of stress for most people. They place the greatest demand on resources for coping" ("Stress Management," 2002). Microsoft's health page describes the following items as stress factors: . A number of specific irritating events throughout a time period, such as a traffic jam on the way to an appointment, an argument with a customer or boss, a bad lunch and so on...
General conditions in your life, such as poor physical health, lack of a support system, emotional problems, loneliness, depression, and unsatisfactory living and work situations... Life cycle transitions and developmental stages, such as getting married or decreased physical abilities. When other stress occurs within one of these, it increases the cumulative stress level... Conflicts with your belief system, such as placing a high value on family life but not having the family life you want ("Stress Management," 2003). Several other professionals describe causes of stress as stressors. "Stressors can be physical or emotional, internally or externally generated.
Stressors can be events, situations, people or demands the individual perceives to be the source of stress. The most common stressor is change, such as lost of a loved one; career change; illness or injury and lifestyle changes. Stressors also vary amongst people; children, teens and adults are all capable of experiencing stress yet there are some stressors that are specific to the age or type of person" ("Stress Management," 2002). Once one understands potential stress causes and triggers, one can employ practices designed to avoid these stressors and thus, reduce the overall effects of acute or even chronic stress. Stress Reduction Techniques The best way to shed the negative effects of acute and chronic stress in one's life is to avoid stressors altogether. To accomplish this, there are a number of techniques that one can utilize that will reduce or eliminate stress.
In an article written for The Canadian Journal of Continuing Medical Education, David B. Posen, M. D. (1995) stated, "there are many ways to relieve stress, from going for a walk to quitting your job" (p. 1). While quitting one's job may not be practical since it could lead to other stressors, "the main emphasis in management of long term stress is on adjusting your working methods and your lifestyle.
Formal relaxation techniques do have a part in this, but equally important are time management skills, a positive attitude, a healthy diet with sufficient exercise and adequate rest, and a pleasant environment" ("Techniques for Reducing," 1996). While there are a number of techniques for diet and exercise, it is time management that can produce some of the most dramatic results in one's stress reduction. Adequate time management can limit or eliminate negative stressors and allow for healthy activities, such as relaxation. Time Management Definition To understand effective techniques for time management as they relate to overall stress reduction, first, it is important to understand time management. Simply stated, "time management is a set of related practical skills that help you to use your time in the most effective and productive way possible. Time management helps you to reduce work stress by being more in control of your time and by being more productive.
This ensures that you have time to relax outside work" ("Time Management," 1996). The next point that one must understand are the steps one can take to practice both short and long-term time management techniques for the purpose of stress reduction. This is important because "with good time management skills you are in control of your time and your life, of your stress and energy levels" (Time Management Skills," 2002). Techniques After understanding time management's definition, one is now ready to incorporate short-term steps to manage and ultimately reduce stress induced by the lack of adequate time to complete necessary tasks. Time management techniques are intended to reduce the causes of acute and chronic stressors through changes in life practices.
One article ("Time Management," 1996) noted these techniques for time management: . Assess the value of your time and how effectively you are using it. Focus on your priorities so that you know which tasks should be done, which ones can be delegated, and which ones can be dropped. Plan projects so that they are done properly with adequate resources.
Use the time you have more effectively. Create more time. Manage and avoid distractions. Increase your productivity and personal effectiveness While these techniques can be helpful in stress reduction, it is through long-term time management techniques that stress is ultimately controlled or eliminated. Benefits Just as long-term acute stress can lead to chronic stress, a lifetime practice of time management techniques can combat the effects of stress. One a web site, Mind Tools notes that consistently practicing effective time management techniques "helps to put things in perspective when you feel 'drowned' in work." Practicing the techniques also helps by "ensuring that you are in control of where you are going and what you are doing." Which in turn, "makes you highly productive, improving enjoyment in your current role, giving you more time to relax and enjoy life" (Mind Tools, p.
1). It is through time management and its impacts on negative acute and chronic stress that we can "relearn how to live our lives to their fullest potential; to have time to enjoy ourselves, our families and our jobs" (Rechtschaffen, 2003, p. 1). Conclusion Whether positive or negative, acute or chronic, and with its many potential affects to one's psychological and physiological health, it is important to understand stress, its causes, symptoms, and remedies.
Like anything that affects one's psychological or physiological well being, stress must be understood and limited. By utilizing techniques like time management, one can overcome stress and its negative effects and reduce the potential of acute stress becoming chronic stress. References Education, April 1995. Retrieved October 9, 2003, from web > Encyclopedia Article from Encarta. (2003). Stress (psychology).
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