Mental Stress And Academic Performance Among Undergraduates

Stress is primarily a physical response and is defined as a condition typically characterized by the symptoms of mental and physical tension or strain, as depression or hypertension, which can result from a reaction to a situation in which a person feels threatened or pressured or sometimes both. Stress is a central concept for understanding both life and evolution. Learning and memory can be affected by stress. Although an optimal level of stress can enhance ability, too much stress can cause physical and mental health problems reduce self-esteem and may affect the academic achievements of students. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to “fight or flight” mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action. This causes a number of reactions, from blood being diverted to muscles to shutting down unnecessary bodily functions such as digestion. Stress arises when the combination of internal and external pressures exceeds the individual’s resources to cope with their situation.

See Samples Of Undergraduate Projects And Topics For Students In Nigeria

For many young adults, school is the best time of life. These critical years can also be undermined by depression, anxiety, and stress. Students are very likely to experience some or many stressors which may test their ability to cope: Adapting to a new environment, balancing a heavy workload, making new friends, becoming more independent, and dealing with myriad of other issues. Excessive workload and homework make students tense and this may lead to inability to give proper time to different study related activities.

Stress is the most undermined syndrome in our society that is neglected since the element of mental health associated with it. Excessive stress could lead to psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. When stress is perceived negatively or becomes excessive, students experience physical and psychological impairment. However, stress can come in different ways in an individual’s daily life. Stress is also viewed as the body’s reaction, both neurologically and physiologically, to adapt to a new condition. When there is a change in life, we adjust ourselves to fit in the new condition. Stressors have a major influence on mood, our sense of well-being, behavior, and health. Acute stress responses in young, healthy individuals may be adaptive and typically do not impose a health burden. However, if the threat is unremitting, particularly in older or unhealthy individuals, the long-term effects of stressors can damage health. Stress can also affect the emotional intelligence. It negatively impacts our ability to intuit other people’s feelings, convey our own feelings and communicate. Stress can also prevent us from being aware of and controlling our emotions, getting along with others, adapting to change, and maintaining a positive mood.

MENTAL STRESS

Stress is our body’s response to pressure. Many different situations or life events can cause stress. It is often triggered when we experience something new, unexpected or that threatens our sense of self, or when we feel we have little control over a situation.

We all deal with stress differently. Our ability to cope can depend on our genetics, early life events, personality and social and economic circumstances. Therefore, when we encounter stress, our body produces stress hormones that trigger a fight or flight response and activate our immune system. This helps us respond quickly to dangerous situations. Sometimes, this stress response can be useful: it can help us push through fear or pain so we can run a marathon or deliver a speech, for example. Our stress hormones will usually go back to normal quickly once the stressful event is over, and there won’t be any lasting effects. However, too much stress can cause negative effects. It can leave us in a permanent stage of fight or flight, leaving us overwhelmed or unable to cope. Long term, this can affect our physical and mental health.

CAUSES OF STRESS AMONG STUDENTS

The events that provoke stress are called stressors, and they cover a whole range of situations — everything from outright physical danger to making a class presentation or taking a semester's worth of your toughest subject. Some of the main stressor among students are:

Academics-The worry about academic performance can cause stress symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia or changes in your appetite and overall mood. According to Morehouse State University, youth have poor study habits and cram last minute studying in the night before exams. The fear of exams and workload create stress among students. The first cause of stress among university students is a lot of assignments.

Finances – All young people feel stress about money! Most young people do not have jobs, or the jobs that they do have don't pay as much as they would like for them to. They want to maintain the lifestyle and fulfill the demand of articles like mobile, bikes and cars etc. If they fail to fulfill the requirement then it creates a stress.

Relationships – Relationships are another big aspect of stress. Everyone wants to have friends, whether they are close friends or just acquaintances. If a person finds that making friends is a bit harder than he/ she had expected, stress is present here as well.

Career- Job Stress is a chronic disease caused among the current youth that negatively affect an individual`s performance and/or overall well-being of his body and mind. The high competition, an inconsiderate work colleague, a lack of job security, there are many causes of job stress. The students have fear of not getting the job opportunity and competition in the market.

Time Management-A lack of time management also causes stress on youth, whether secondary or tertiary. Balancing academics, peer activities, and home life can be difficult. Toss in a part-time job and the challenge increases.

Mental stress can be caused by chronic illness or injury. Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem) Taking care of an elderly or sick family member. Traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, theft, rape, or violence against you or a loved one.

MENTAL STRESS AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

Stress is an unavoidable phenomenon in students’ lives. In the academic setting, stress can arise from both academic and non-academic factors. These include socio-cultural and psychological attributes. Sources of stress in the academic setting may include difficulty with coping with a new environment, nature of as well as workload of course of study, relationship with other students, parental and teachers’ expectations of students as well as own expectation of academic performance. Stress can have either a positive or negative effect on a student’s academic performance depending on the severity. Minimal levels of stress can result in positive outcomes such as motivation and improved task performance while severe stress can result in anxiety, depression, and social dysfunctions. High levels of stress associated with poor academic performance. Low stress however, may not necessarily result in good performance as under the circumstances; some students may perceive the task at hand as unchallenging and may easily get bored. This may lead to poor academic performance. Stress affects students learning and academic performance negatively as it can lead to anxiety, sleep problems and interpersonal conflicts. Majority of students with stress reported poor self-esteem and high depression. Stress has been linked to indulgence in risky behaviour such as alcohol and other drugs consumption, unprotected sex, physical inactivity, poor eating and sleeping patterns among students. Students with academic stress are depression, anxiety, behavioural problems among other negative manifestations. In the same vein, fears of failure and negative evaluation of the future have been linked to incidences of depression which result from stress.

Mental stress has shown to influence on students academic performance.  Academic stress refers to the unpleasant situations that occur due to the many demands made on the students or learners in the form of examinations, maintaining healthy and academic lives, competing with peers, meeting the academic expectations of teachers and parents as well as own academic expectations. University provides students’ tertiary education and psychosocial development. Besides pursuing knowledge in university, a student also gets to socialize with different kinds of people and undergo psychological development. Studies show that entering university may bring strain or stress. This is because university students face a changing education system, lifestyle, and social environment. University students need to reach certain levels of academic achievement to graduate. The academic achievement is determined by their performance during classroom activities, assignments, presentations and examinations. This means that they are evaluated throughout the semester. Besides, most students have moved out from home and they have to be wise in managing their time and activities. They now meet people of different ages and backgrounds, thus interpersonal skills are needed to socialize with the people around them.

CONCLUSION

Mental Stress is the body’s reaction to a challenge. Although stress is often perceived as bad, it can actually be good in some respects. The right kind of stress can sharpen the mind and reflexes. Mental Stress is the body’s natural response to challenges. When a student experiences high levels of mental stress or chronic stress, regardless of her age or grade, it can interfere with her ability to learn, memorize, and earn good grades -- as well as lead to poor physical, emotional, and mental health.

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