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 STRESS:- Causes, consequences and managing of stress

Updated on January 14, 2019

STRESS:-Causes, consequences and managing of stress

Stress is usually perceived as having negative and demanding effects only,but a certain amount of stress is desirable and necessary to keep us alert and motivated to overcome obstacles of daily life. We consciously create mild stress in our lives to help overcome periods of frustration and dull routine. Sensory deprivation experiments shows that the absence of stimulation is unpleasant. Each of us can function best at a moderate level of stress, which we may call “healthy tension”, which involves low muscle tension, an alert presence of mind, peaceful bodily feelings, increased creative intelligence, physical vitality, and a deep sense of well being. These events suggest stress can be positive,as an opportunity has been presented that offers potential gain.The positive challenges influences workers Eu-stress which enhances the quality of the work and satisfaction obtained from the job.

  • selye(1978) defined stress as the non specific response of the body to any demand or unexpected event in the environment that requires an adjustment.
  • “stress is an adoptive response to a situation that is perceived as challenging or threatening to the person’s well being”

The damaging form of stress is called distress, which are what most people call ‘stress’. Excessive pressure, unreasonable demands on our time, bad news etc. generally result in negative consequences and dangerous side effects. Distress , if intense or prolonged , can overtax the adjective ability and have physically or psychologically harmful effects.


Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Events that leads to stress are called stressors. Stressors put physical or emotional demand on the person. Stressors range from infrequent to common place situations. The main causes of stress can be defined as below:-


It includes war, crime, floods, natural calamities, diseases, accidents, societal community conditions, infections, extreme temperature, environmental pollution, electric shocks, toxins, poisons, constant noise, problematic working conditions, etc.


Unemployment and job dissatisfaction are common sources of stress for many people in our society. Limited financial gain , fatigue at work, retirement, change to a different line of work, inflation, loan, etc. give rise to different stressful conditions.

Arguments with people, political uncertainties, change,or instability in the political system may cause pain or discomfort. Many countries around the world are facing political uncertainties which caused many youths to flee to neighboring countries for shelter, support and earning. Political threats and changes also cause stress. Prejudice, race, ethnic issues, and jail terms can also be labeled as a political cause of stress.


The modern way of living, over-industrialization, population increase, urbanization,consumerism, and globalization has provoked the stress levels of society immensely. New innovations can make an employee’s skills and experience obsolete in a short time. Computers, cell phones, robotics, automation, and similar nature technological innovations are creating a threat to too many people. The replacement of human resource through technology is also causing panic.


Terrorism is also a potential source of stress. Mankind today lives in fear of the new destructive power of modern warfare in which hostile groups can deploy nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Fear growing out of this threat has led some individuals to develop an overly aggressive attitude. There are also different kinds of terrorism stress such as civil conflict and violence, polarizing groups, group prejudice, discrimination, and racial minorities which are subject to elicit of frustration, hostility and stress.


Family is the largest source of stress. Marital dissatisfaction, issues related to the children, spouse, guilt feelings etc. are some of the major factors related to individual causes of stress. The death of spouse , divorce, marital separation, death of a close family member or friend, personal injury, illness, loss of property, change in the health of family member, and gender difficulties can be listed as life changing events, and the trauma leading to stress. One’s own failure, feeling of isolation, personal limitation, lack of resources, pressure from competition, and challenging educational demands and so on are sources of stress on the individual’s own personal level.


Regardless of income overextending the level of expenses seem to be more stressful in the modern style of living. It is a fact that some people are poor money managers and that these people always spend more than their earning capacity. Change in the health of a family member, pregnancy, introduction of a new family member and so on demands more financial resources than being alone. For some people life is a ‘show off business’demanding unnecessary expenses taxing financial resources ultimately leading to stress.


In recent times, people are facing acculturate stress. It refers to the stress people experience while trying to adopt a new culture. Symptoms of acculturate stress may include anxiety, depression, uncertainty, language difficulties, and conflict about ethnic identity and alcohol abuse. It causes conflicts over preserving old values and beliefs and adopting to the values and morals of the new culture.


A person’s experience of stress is also a heritable personality disposition. It affects an individual’s experience of stress, partly determining how the individual will think and behave in a stressful situation.


When the pressure of stress is severe, and long, the continued physiological, psychological, and behavioral pathology effects in bodily organs of the individual are evident. The individual’s ability to think, feel, and act are also affected. The consequences of stress can be categorized into:

  • physiological consequences
  • psychological consequences
  • organizational consequences, and
  • Behavioral consequences

Physiological consequences

Stress can have a negative influence on health. This negative influence can be seen if an individual can interpret the bodily symptoms of stress. Some symptoms can be readily recognized, while other symptoms are vague and ambiguous. Certain physiological changes in different bodily functions are seen:


Stress can influences the activity of the heart as it activates the sympathetic nervous system(the autonomic part of the nervous system that affects many organs, including the heart). Such stressful situations negatively affect the heart in several ways. Sudden stress increases the pumping action and heart rate, as well as causing the arteries to constrict, thereby restricting blood flow.

Stress appears to impair the clearance of fat molecules in the body, thereby raising blood cholesterol levels, at least temporarily. In women, chronic stress may reduce estrogen levels, which is important for cardiac health.


The brain and the intestine are strongly related and mediated by many of the same hormones. It is not surprising then that prolonged stress can disrupt the digestive system, irritating the large intestine, causing diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and bloating. Excessive production of digestive acids in the stomach may also cause a painful burning sensation.


Chronic stress has been associated with the development of insulin resistance, a condition in which the body is unable to use insulin effectively to regulate glucose (blood sugar). Insulin resistance is a primary factor in diabetes.


headaches are the most common stress-related physical ailments. The most common headache is the muscle-tension headache, which is usually caused by contraction of muscles in the shoulders, neck, forehead, and scalp.


Hypertension is caused when the blood pressure is elevated. When we are extremely stressed our blood pressures rises.


Asthma is a respiratory disorder in which the main tube of the wind pipe doesn’t function clearly, making it difficult to breath. Asthma attacks are caused by an allergic reaction, stress, and emotional responses such as anger, or even by laughing too hard and loud.


The term cancer refers not just to one illness but to a number of disorders that affects plants and animals as well as people.These disorders show the common feature of the development of abnormally changed cells that reproduce rapidly and rob the body of its nutrients.

Psychological Consequences

There are psychological consequences when stress related problems affect a person’s mental health and well being causing people to experience too much stress and dissatisfaction at work. If the situation is not regular, up and downs are existing and the job provides no variety, significance, autonomy, feedback, identity, prestige, and recognition several psychological symptoms may arise:


The tensions of unresolved stress frequently causes insomnia, perspiring, generally keeping the stressed person awake or causing the person to suddenly wake up in the middle of the night or early morning. Evidence suggests that stress may cause people to sleep too much or not enough.


Stress can lead to a diminished sexual desire. Stress can lead to an inability to achieve orgasm in women, while it may cause temporary impotence in men.


Stress has significant effects on the function of the brain, particularly on memory. Studies indicate that the immediate effect of acute stress impairs short-term memory, particularly verbal memory. Memory lapses, difficulty in attention, and decision making etc. are often seen.


Diffuse pain, tension, irritability, boredom, nervousness, anxiety, depression, frequent mood change, emotional instability, lowered self-steem etc. are primarily evident. Disorder may ranges to panic disorder, survivor syndrome, and depressive disorders.

Organizational Consequences

Stress can have an even more direct consequence for organizations, and its employees which includes poor job performance, withdrawal, negative changes in attitudes and job burn out.


Stress results in a decline in performance, such as poor quality work, or a drop in productivity. A manager suffering from stress may make a faulty decision and disrupt working relationships with employees, causing difficulties within the organization. The manager in this state may also be hard to get along with.


Stress results with employees displaying withdrawal behavior within the organization. The two most significant forms of withdrawal are absenteeism and quitting. Stress can also result in ignoring, neglecting, and remaining passive while on the job.


Another direct organizational consequences of employee stress is related to the employee’s attitude. It affects job satisfaction, morale, organizational commitment, cooperation and motivation to perform at high levels. A negative attitude toward work brings a habit to complain about unimportant things, useless gossiping, harassing, gender discrimination and so forth.


Job burn out refers to the process of emotional exhaustion, denationalization and reduced personal accomplishment resulting from prolonged exposure to stress.

1. Emotional exhaustion is a commonly used term in job burn out which refers to the lack of energy, and reduced emotional resources. The individual feels that he no longer able to care and support the needs of the clients.

2. The term denationalization refers to a sense of detachment the professional feels towards his or her clients.

3. Reduced personal accomplishment refers to feeling of diminished competency, confidence, and success.

Behavioral Consequences

The behavioral consequences of stress may lead the person to distress. Research has clearly documented that people who smoke tend to smoke, consume alcohol and use drugs more when they experience stress. A person under stress show unusual behavior and functions differently than in normal situation.

Other possible behavioral consequences are accident proneness, eating problems(weight gain, weight loss, eating problems), and violence.


Everyone has to manage stress because stressors are an unavoidable part of life. Coping with stress can mean escaping from the problem or conforting and taking steps to prevent the stressors from bothering again and again.Several different strategies have been developed to help manage stress at the workplace, or in a personal emotional life situation. Broadly, managing stress can be divided into 2 broad categories:

  1. Individual approaches
  2. organizational Approaches

Individual Approaches:

People should take responsibility for their own well being. There are techniques that can be used by individuals to help combat stress. Several individual strategies can be taken, some of which are listed below:-

  • Physical exercise
    • At least 30 min daily physical exercise
    • Aerobics exercise
  • Nutrition
    • one’s should maintain appropriate nutrition and diet schedules.
  • Relaxation/sleep
    • Enough sleep
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
  • Managing routine/ time schedules
    • Making a daily list of activities to be accomplished
    • Prioritizing activities by importance and urgency
    • Scheduling activities according to the priorities set,and
    • knowing the daily cycle and handling the most demanding parts of the job during high part of the cycle when the individual feels most alert and productive.
  • social support network
    • Creating a close association with family members, friends, coworkers, and colleagues who are good listeners, and advisers, an individual can act more effectively in a stressful situation.
  • Cognitive therapy
    • Cognitive Therapy are quite successful in eliminating anxiety disorders, depression and stress related problems.

Organizational Approach

There is a growing feeling that organizations should be involved in managing the stress of their employees. Techniques and approaches have been developed by the organization to eliminate job stress for employees. The basic organizational strategies for helping employees manage stress are related with task demand, role demand, and organizational structures. The strategies the organization may undertake to reduce stressors for the employees may include:

  • Improved personnel selection and job placement.
  • Training.
  • Use of realistic goal setting.
  • Redesigning of job.
  • Increased employee involvement.
  • Improved organizational communication.
  • Wellness program.

Taking more practical approach, the management of organizations should create a more supportive climate, enrich tasks, clarify roles, and reduce conflict. On an individual level, steps should be taken to reduce stress which will enhance the performance of the organization, and its workers.


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