Shaun's literature review
Healthy and Unhealthy effects of stress
Stress is a key factor in today’s living. We all are living under the “military operation” of planning and working and sometimes it gets out of hand. For example, some people ask “Is the work getting harder because people are getting smarter? Or is it just that people are being forced to get better because of the harder work.”
What is Stress?
There are as many definitions of stress as there are causes. Most people think of stress in the negative sense, assuming that it is a "negative" thing. Stress can be both physical, mental and even psychological. On the physical side it may be due to such things as acceleration, heat / cold, vibration, etc. These will not be discussed in this article. On the mental / psychological side it could be anything from problems at work or home. A useful working definition is this:
Why Do We Need Stress?
There are two main reasons why we need stress. The first is that unless we have some stress, we will not be at our full potential, i.e. some stress is good for us. For many of you who have done aviation medicine training, this will be familiar. It is represented by what is called the Yerkes-Dodson curve:
There is a dosage of stress, both short and long-term, with which most of us are capable to cope with. This dosage is related to the type of stress as well as the amount. The dosage is individual. The amount of stress which we are able to cope with all depends on many factors including an individual's personality, past experiences including training, expectations, personal circumstances etc.
All of us are able to exceed this dosage for short periods without there being any harmful effects. However, if the dosage is acute and extreme we will not cope and this is when panic occurs. If the stress is longer term then the signs and symptoms may develop further as such.
It is also important to realize that one cannot separate what stresses there are in different places or situations. They all contribute to the same dosage.
The Adverse Effects of Stress
Factors causing stress are:
Demands: These can come from many sources, tight deadlines, to many things to be handled - from bosses, colleagues and subordinates. Whilst we do concentrate on, say, excessive levels of work, don't forget that too little to do can just as equally stressful. Whilst it may at times sound attractive, boredom is very dangerous.
Supports: Even if we are having a difficult time from one place, our overall dosage can be reduced by support from other aspects of our life. For example, if workload and deadline demands are high but your peer colleagues and subordinates are supportive, this support can go a long way to reducing the effects of the stress. Remember the most important factor in stress reduction: "everyone functions better and is more resistant to stress if they are part of a cohesive team". That is something the FAA does well.
Family / Social Factors:
Like what was mentioned earlier, you can differentiate stress from your home and work. Both areas may contribute to the "overall dosage". It has certainly been the case that many patients suffering from excessive stresses at home have "presented" as cases of deteriorating flying performance.
Warning Signs or Strain Symptoms
So what are the effects or signs of early symptoms? They may be listed as below:
- Defensiveness, sensitivity to criticism.
- Inappropriate aggression.
- Acute or chronic interpersonal problems... at work... at home.
- Financial problems which may be the result of stress or the cause of it.
- Excesses in routine habits e.g. smoking, eating, drinking.
- Retreat from normal social activities e.g. crew room banter.
- Fatigue for no particular reason e.g. despite having a good night's sleep.
- Deteriorating or poor flying performance.
- Increased risk taking.
- Personality changes.
If these are happening to you or those around you, you are at risk
If the stress becomes unabating, then it is possible for actual diseases to develop e.g. early heart attacks, raised blood pressure, early strokes and even many cancers. Although it may be pretty frightening, we all just have to keep in mind to maintain a healthy management of stress, and know that these take awhile to develop.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Nothing works better than sorting out the root cause, which are not always that easy. However, there is much we can do ourselves to make us more resistant to stress. Some examples are:
- Organization - organize your life so that you avoid any unnecessary stresses and do not create any new ones by your action.
- Health - those who are physically fit and in good health are far more resistant to stress. So keep fit by taking regular exercise and eat a good and balanced diet.
- Relaxation - is vitally important. You need to have a form of relaxation to recover from the stresses of the day.
- Laugh - Laughter is a good cure all, releasing tension caused from stress.
- Spend time with friends and enjoy other people's company.
By: Surgeon C J Stoot
Afif's Literature Review
For a long time, students have been trying to cope with the amount of stress they face everyday. In a country like Singapore, success in academics is very important to succeed. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed the issue about stress on students saying that we need to “find the right balance so that we don’t want to have excessive pressure” (Kristiano Ang, 2012).
The problem has been raised by a lot of parents, saying that most of their children sleep late at night to study for their upcoming exams. This is bad as their children will not be able to concentrate for the next day, especially if they are having exams. But is there a suitable amount that students can cope with?
Stress cannot be evaded; one must face stress in one way or another. All that we can do is to cope with stress and accept its effects on us. However, there is a moderate amount of stress that makes us excited about life and improves our performance. It is only when stress is too intense that it can be bad and have negative effects (HPB, 2012). Some causes of stress are due to bullying in school and inability to cope with transition from preschool to primary school, or from primary school to secondary school (K. Malathy, 2010).
Symptoms of stress are increased or irregular heartbeats, moodiness, forgetfulness and many more. Prolonged stress can even lead to medical conditions such as heart conditions. Different people have different types effects, including behavioural, mental, emotional and physical (HPB, 2012).
To overcome stress, one must know where the sources of stress in his or her life, though this is not so obvious. What he/ she can do is not to run away from stress, and look at your habits if they play a role in stress. Until that happens, stress will be out of your control. Drinking, withdrawing from friends or family and taking out your stress on other people are never the ways to manage it. One could alter the stressor, which are the circumstances which cause stress, and learn to adapt to it. One could also avoid the stressor, by playing with your pet, getting a massage or watch a comedy. Also, he could adopt a healthy lifestyle to increase resistance to stress, by exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep (Melinda Smith, Robert Segal, 2012).
Health Promotion Board. (30 August 2012). Understanding Stress. Retrieved from:
Kristiana Ang. (7 December 2012). Singapore Aims To Curb Stress On Students. Retrieved from:
- Malathy. (9 January 2010). School Stress. Retrieved from:
Melinda Smith, Robert Segal. (December 2012). Stress Management. Retrieved from:
Jun Kai's literature Review
A moderate amount of stress gets you excited about life, motivates you and improves
your performance. It is when stress is too intense or continues for a prolonged period of
time that it can become harmful and may have negative effects.
There are many are many factors that cause stress, and they are called stressors. Common stressors include meeting deadlines, organizing a busy day and even caring for a family member or major life events like changing jobs, getting married or losing a loved one. Some stressors may have a bigger impact than others.
Stress is inevitable, it is not something we can eliminate completely hence we can all benefit from developing our skills to manage it more effectively. Some stressors can be eliminated while others have to be accepted and managed. It is important to be equipped with different stress reducing methods to provide us a selection to choose from when we need to proactively cope with stress (HPB, 2012). Stress is not always bad, If given in small amounts, stress gives you the push, the motivation to perform under pressure and stimulate you to do your best. But when you're relentlessly running in emergency mode, it becomes detrimental to ones mind and body. The pros of stress are that it increases the heart to supply more blood quickly, and it increases the respiratory rate to get more oxygen from the atmosphere
(Merril La, 2010).
But when stress starts to come in heavy amounts, more effects happen, but in a negative way. Your body will have a tendency to sweat for often, back and chest pain, headache, nail biting, nervous twitches. While your mind might face anxiety, depression and restlessness (Christian Nordqvist, 2009).
It may seem that there's nothing you can do about stress. The bills will not stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your career and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have more control than you might ever think. But drinking alcohol, smoking, taking drugs or pills is never the way to reduce stress (Melinda Smith & Robert Segal, 2012). You can manage stress just by doing some simple stuff like taking a warm bath, doing some yoga, listening to music, exercise or even read a book (rb101182, 2011).
Health Promotion Board, (31st August 2012), Understanding Stress, Retrieved from http://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/article?id=266
Merril La, (1st October 2010), Stress : The Pros and Cons, Retrieved from http://talk.onevietnam.org/stress-the-pros-and-cons/
Christian Nordqvist, (14th November 2012), What is Stress? How to Deal with Stress? Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/145855.php
Melinda Smith, M.A. and Robert Segal, M.A. (December 2012), Stress Management : How to reduce, prevent and cope with stress, Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm
rb101182 (20th November 2011), Top 10 Ways to Relieve Stress, Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm
Irfan's literature Review