Emotional response

Stress is defined “as any circumstances that threaten or are perceived to threaten one’s well- being and that thereby tax one’s coping abilities” (Weiten, pp.530). Stress can happen anywhere at anytime such as at home, school, work and even sports. The fact is that stress happens to all of us all of our lives and we can’t hide from it. Because of this, stress has always carried a negative connotation when in fact stress is a leading contributor to the successes in our lives. We all need stress because without it life would be less exciting and challenging. Therefore, stress is a source of motivation and a necessary component to our success and survival.

Of course there is the negative perspective to stress. Stress is known to evoke many emotional responses such as anger, irritability, depression and so on. Whether stress can be positive or negative depends on the individual and how they cope with stressful situations. Hans Selye, a theorists who coined the term stress proposed that “there are two main types of human beings: ‘racehorses,’ who thrive on stress and are only happy with a vigorous, fast-paced lifestyle; and ‘turtles,’ who in order to be happy require peace, quiet, and a generally tranquil environment”(Weiten, pp.538). With that, I plan to examine where I fall in relation to Selye’s theory and how stress has positively impacted my life along with the adverse emotions that are evoked as a response to stress.

First, I would like to preface this by giving a brief summary of my family background. I was raised in a family of six, my mother and father, and three older brothers. My family was very academically and athletically competitive which stemmed mainly from my dad’s background. He is a very well known and respected educator and coach at Central Catholic High School serving as the A.P. and Honors Chemistry teacher and the Head Coach of the football team for 36 years. He raised all four of us to compete at the highest levels academically and athletically. As you can see I am no stranger to stress, my life has pretty much revolved around it. Not only has there been the stress of living up to my father’s expectations but also the stress that stemmed from being the baby of the family.

Most of my stress came from the pressure of being as smart and athletic as my three older brothers were. I knew that I had the eyes of my family and the hundreds of other families and friends on me, anxious to see the same results from me as they saw in my dad and brothers. To this day that thought still makes me a sick to my stomach, but in the end, I lived up to every expectation and I achieved everything I wanted for myself. I graduated with a 4.3 G.P.A (sixth in my class) and our football team made it to the playoffs with a record of 10-2 record. In retrospect, I realize how much I thrived on stress and still do to this day. I believe it to be the driving force that has helped me to achieve all of my goals thus far and it will continue to be that force that pushes me to succeed in life. Just as Hans Seyle proposed all humans are either ‘racehorses’ or ‘turtles’. In my case I would undoubtedly say that I am a ‘racehorse’.

As I mentioned before there are negative attributes to stress that are due in part by the way an individual copes with stress. Coping with stress is different from person to person. For me, I will admit that emotionally I don’t always cope that well when stress seems overwhelming. When these types of stressful events arrive I am very irritable and I find myself getting worked up and angry over very small incidences. For example, I will be driving and someone forgets to use his or her turn signal, I begin to curse the other driver to myself but I do keep myself under control for the most part.

Another emotional response that is the most common for me is annoyance. I get to the point where I would rather not interact with anyone because in my mind, anything that anyone has to say to me is either meaningless or just flat out unintelligent. Along with emotional responses I do experience physiological responses that are a result from stress such as sickness to my stomach and dizziness which are mild for the most part. In the journal article that dealt with coping behaviors of college students, students reported that they would respond to academic stressors by use of self-blame and reading guidebooks. Honestly, I can say that I have never used either one of these methods to cope with academic stressors but that is not to say that I don’t need to work on how I cope with stress emotionally.

In conclusion, I have realized that changes need to be made in the way that I cope with stress. The fact that stress has pushed me to achieve all of my goals thus far is great. But now I need to look at the bigger picture, which is my health. Success in life isn’t very gratifying if you are dead. So I plan to research ways to relieve stress in a more effective manner so that I can enjoy my successes along with a healthier lifestyle.

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