Lying on the Couch, the Psychology Club Magazine

On a couch near the Psychology Department Office on the 5th floor of James Hall you may find the Psychology Club Magazine called “Lying on the Couch”. With their permission I am posting one of the articles in it I recommend.
Stress and Ways to Cope With It
By Irena Pergjika
We are all under pressure in our everyday life, whether it is the boss at work, paying the mortgage and bills, or our daily duties; in one way or another we find ourselves running in circles. We glide through our lives without taking note of our stress levels, and in this way we delude ourselves into believing that stress is normal. The sheer idea that this is the way life is supposed to be gives an opportunity for stress to creep in and cause actual harm to our body. A prolonged increase in blood pressure may cause permanent damage to blood vessels and the heart. Along with the physical harm, stress is also able to cause psychological damage and reduce social interactions. Let’s try to understand stress better and learn to detect, and counteract what it does to our body.
What causes stress?
There are various issues that can trigger stress. If you carefully give it some thought there is not even one single thing around that doesn’t trigger a stress response; deciding what to wear, catching the train/bus, handing in a report, meeting a deadline, resolving problems, financial concerns, and many more scenarios that include our daily duties.
How does your body manage stress?
Similarly to other animals, humans formed a defense mechanism to cope with stress; it’s popularly known as Fight or Flight Response. This is a biological heritage in which the body prepares to defend itself against a stressor such as a lion charging towards us, or in today’s terms, a car speeding towards us. This triggers a set of physical and physiological mechanisms that aim to ameliorate the stressful situation; hence, flight or fight response. Now, we must watch out how we decide to “defend” ourselves from stressors and follow an appropriate response. In the first instance you might choose to fight the lion, in which case your adrenal glands will promptly release adrenaline, thus boosting your blood pressure and heart rate, dilate your pupils so that you can intake more information, all the while partially shutting down your digestive system, diverting most of the blood in your body where it counts – to your muscles. All of this happens in order to prepare you for the task at hand – fighting the lion. On the other hand, with a speeding car coming your way, the same physiological response will be triggered, but this time it will serve to help you flee the approaching menace.
What goes wrong with the human body, as compared to any other animal, our socially escalated stress response does not shut off in a timely manner, and instead lingers for a prolonged period of time. This is one reason people who are stressed get stomach ulcers. Contrary to popular belief though, stress is not the primary cause of an ulcer, rather it is the conduit by which an ulcer arises. What I mean by that is that among the physiological responses of the fight or flight mechanism, the immune system becomes depressed in its activities, and thus allows naturally occurring bacteria of the digestive tract to propagate on the protective lining of the stomach. If this situation is left unchecked for a period of time, the bacteria begin to break down the lining of the stomach leading to the formation of an ulcer. And so, more stress is placed on the person that develops an ulcer, showing that this is a positive feedback loop process which is tough to break away from.
Cause of stress is different between women and men?
This will likely come as a surprise for a number of readers. We are all aware of our differences, but who would expect stress to be one of those dividers? Men play a certain role in this society that is forced on them from birth. They’re expected to support the family, shelter their true emotions from the rest of the world, as really be the bread winner for the family. The inability to communicate his feelings can become a major stressor in a man’s life. Having to silently struggle through his ordeal is a lot to handle for one individual, and this is why the utilization of psychologists and support groups is still an important factor towards mental health today. Piled on top of it all is the responsibility of having to support family. This much pressure and stress can lead to anxiety and ultimately depression (which I will discuss in another post).
On the other side of the social spectrum, women have to act in many roles such as a student, employee, spouse, mother, housewives, etc. The balancing act between all of the roles can be overwhelming, and for sure bring a great deal of stress to a woman’s life. According to our society, a woman is slated to work at a job, maintain a household, and feed her family members, not to mention looking out for the health of all those under her wing. This leaves very little time for a woman to deal with her own issues, and leads to an internalization of woes. Without a positive outlet for negative emotions and stress, the situation mirrors that of the plight of men. The inability to relieve stress overrides the gender roles, and ultimately leads to similar manifestations of the “disease” that is stress.
Personality and Stress
There are three categories of personality; type A, type B, and kind C. Those of us who are a Type A personality are competitive, impatient, controlling and aggressive. They would do anything to get whatever they want and that they won’t accept any less. They have difficulty coping with stress and become aggressive over trivial things. A segment of the population that would fit very well in this category would be our lovely politicians, UFC fighters, Donald Trump, etc. Type B personality is a bit more relaxed, less competitive and doesn’t get as frustrated as Type A. They are also more tolerant of others. This is actually the category the majority of folks are in. The professions they may be most certain to occupy are psychology, teaching, social work, etc. Last but on no account least we’ve come to our type C personality. Anyone who is a Type C personality is prone to panic no matter how trivial a situation might seem to another person. They tend to have difficulty expressing their feelings and emotions, they exaggerate everything, feel hopeless, and tend to suppress their anger. Type C personality is more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and an absence of a social life.
Stress and Psychology
Since stress forbids you from functioning without having to worry every minute of every day, this gives anxiety a chance to set in. This inevitably results in depression. Some people opt to stay at home, and check out of their social life, afraid to handle the reality that awaits them outside. This can very easily take a turn for the worse, which left untreated will lead to a state deep depression. At that point the only way back to reality would be through medication. Stress also clouds judgment, and negatively affects focus making it to hard to think clearly. Many patients who are suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) deal with copious amounts of stress on a daily basis. This condition is characterized by panic attacks brought upon by flashbacks of traumatic events.
Here is a recap of the many things stress ushers into our life:
Depression, Anxiety, Sexual dysfunction, Lost or change in appetite, Loss of sleep, Fatigue Overcoming, Here is how I deal with my stress: Getting rid of stress might be difficult since we are so used to it, but here are some pointers that helped me improve my life and brought my stress level down:
1. Accept it – Accept that you have a problem! Being in denial doesn’t help. The quicker you accept it the quicker you open the door to healing.
2. Exercise – Indeed, exercise aids to draw your attention away from what normally stresses you, while helping maintain your body’s health. Whether it is a run in the park, a spar inside a boxing ring or even a ride down a biking trail, your mind will wonder far away from stress and will react positively to the new surroundings.
3. STOP being so negative – Things are probably not prefect, but as Salvador Dali once famously said, “Have no fear of perfection… you will never reach it.” Instead focus on the positive things that you have, and explore them further than you ever have. Don’t let the negative thoughts trample on your happiness and forever bury who you are.
4. Get organized – Life is busy. There are a hundred and one things that ought to be done, RIGHT NOW! If you are disorganized you are creating an opening for stress to invade your life. Design a schedule that focuses on the important aspects of your life such as school or work. Plan out an effective timetable to help you study for a test in advanced and not just the night before. Markdown important deadlines on your calendar so that you have plenty of time to design a thoughtful and innovative presentation for a work conference. This is vital to easing your stress, so get a pen & paper and start organizing!
5. Some things can’t be changed – ACCEPT IT! You can’t change everything, and things can’t just change so accept them and move on.
6. Communication. By communicating more effectively with the people around us, we can learn to avoid stressful situation. By practicing the art of negotiating we can gain much more ground, while making both ourselves and others happy.
7. Sleep: Yes, you heard me, S-L-E-E-P. On average, most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep. If you go to bed early, your body and mind will work naturally to wipe out the stresses of the day so that after you get up you’ll feel fully rejuvenated. This might improve your mood, health and well-being. With this easy step, your life could very well be, yes you guessed it, STRESS FREE.
8. Manage your time – This goes back to being organized. Don’t leave anything for the last minute! Divide your time accordingly, and watch your effort levels drop.

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