Stress today is an inescapable part of modern life. It is a psychological and physiological reaction that occurs when there is a perceived imbalance by an individual between the expectations out of him and his capabilities. Stress cannot be defined I n any one way. One man’s’ stress may well be another man’s’ challenge. The word stress comes from the French word “estrece” meaning narrowness; a constriction or limiting of power. Stress is the body’s and mind’s process for dealing with uncertain change and danger [i] .
2. Stress may be an internal state which can be caused by physical demands on the body, or because of various environmental factors. Stress can also be attributed to failure to adapt. [ii] It was used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to denote force, pressure, strain or strong efforts with reference to an object or person. In psycho-physiology, stress refers to some stimulus resulting in a detectable strain that cannot be accommodated by the organism which ultimately results in impaired behavior.
3. Certain basic definitions with respect to stress are explained below:-
(a) Stress. Stress can be defined as adaptive response to any external situation that leads to physical, physiological and/or behavioral deviations for organizational participants. It can also be defined as the demands made on the adaptive capabilities of the mind and the body.
(b) Combat Stress. The stress and strain experienced by a soldier in battle or warlike situation can be said to combat stress. This is a complex and dynamic phenomenon caused as a result of the changing stressors and stress related processes within a soldier as he goes about performing his combat missions. At any given point in time stress inside a soldier can be attributed to a variety of mental and physical stressors.
(c ) Stressors. The factors that cause stress are called stressors. A stressor is any event or situation that requires a non -routine change in adaptation or behavior. It is often unfamiliar and creates conflicts within an individual. It will either pose a challenge or threaten the well being of the individual.
(d) Eustress. Stress can manifest itself in both positive and negative sense. Stress is said to be positive when its effects create an opportunity for some gain. Eustress is a term used to describe this angle of stress. Eustress is also seen as a motivator since in its absence the individuals are seen to lack the ‘edge’ required to excel in a competitive environment. The effects of eustress are therefore not harming.
(e) Positive Stress. This occurs where an individual rises above changes and problems and is determined to go on with normal life.
(f) Negative Stress. Can be defined as the stress or its fallouts that has an adverse physical, psychological, and behavioral effect on an individual.
Forms of Stress
4. The different forms of stress can be described as follows:-
Anticipatory Stress. It is the bodies response to anticipated stress. As an example the mind and body prepare in advance for an anticipated test, or change in weather, or any other anticipated phenomenon whose occurrence is known. This form of stress in generally positive in nature, however excessive anticipatory stress can interfere with an individuals present life as he may tend to bother about the future more than the present.
Current Stress. Occurs during an experience as an event, for example the stress experienced during a fire fight.
Residual Stress. Occurs after the event has passed. The examples of this can be found in post action trauma faced by soldiers after a battle or encounter. This form of stress is also experienced as a fallout of casualties to own troops in combat. This form of stress is a negative form of stress.
Types of Stress
5. Having seen the various forms of stress, listed below are few different types of stress:-
(a) Acutestress. Acutestress is caused by normal work situations like meeting deadlines, keeping up with pressures at workplace et, or any other normal day to day activity. This type of stress manifests for a short durations . Symptoms of this type of tension are headaches, back pain, stomach problems, rapid heartbeat, muscle aches or body pain.
(b) AcuteStress. Acute stress is common phenomenon experienced in persons who live a hectic lifestyle and are generally over worked. Such individuals lead a stressed life. Prolonged tension headaches, hypertension, migraines, chest pain and heart disease can be said to be some symptoms of the same.
(c ) ChronicStress The third and the most serious of the three is Chronic stress. It can be defined as a prolonged stress that exists for weeks, months, or even years. This manifestation of this type of stress is a result of multiple factors and the individuals suffering from chronic stress are often unaware of its onset.
Characteristics of Stress
6. All stressors share certain important characteristics , and these are :-
(a) House of Cards Effect. Stress is infectious. One soldiers lack of success sin coping with stress can have a near simultaneous effect on the persons related to him and will quickly effect the company or the battalion.
(b) Culmination. It is rare for a single stressor to be so overwhelming as to cause a breakdown of coping mechanisms. A soldier who has financial problems, martial problems, interpersonal problems, although each trivial in intensity will breakdown under the collective burden of these.
(c ) Precipitation. Precipitation is a characteristic of stress that flows from the above. The stress that finally sends the soldier over or may in itself be as trivial as the blister in his foot. It can also be the last drops that makes his cup of woes tip over.
(d) Interaction. Stresses will interact with themselves and spiral out of control to produce a breakdown. For example, poor physical health leads to poor attention to personal hygiene, and nutrition that may lead to physical weakening. This in turn is likely to interact with other emotional stressors to produce a potentially dangerous situation.
(e) Sensitisation. Some stresses will change a soldiers capacity to react to similar situations in the future. It will be appreciated that being refused leave for the second time feels much worse than the first time. [iii]
UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS OF STRESS
15. General Effects of Stress. When accosted with any stressful situation, the mind and the body react in a peculiar manner. The body may experience sudden increase in heart beat, breathlessness, sweating, or such like actions [iv] . On the other hand the mind is often known to experience a myriad of emotions like fear, anger, guilt, or sheer helplessness, tension, or on the positive side increased levels of alertness. The major effects of stress can be summarised as below [v] :-
(a) Subjective Effects. Anxiety, aggression, apathy, boredom, depression, fatigue, frustration, guilt, shame, irritability, bad temper, threat, tension and loneliness are some of the subjective effects. They are called so because the exact measures cannot be quantified.
(b) Behavioural Effects. These effects manifest themselves in the day to day behaviour of the individuals and can be identified. Some examples can be emotional outburst, excessive eating or loss of appetite, excessive drinking or smoking, excitability, impulsive behaviour, impairment of speech, restlessness and trembling, or any other such like symptom.
(c) Cognitive effects. These type of effects are a more serious fallout of the onset of stress. Some of the cognitive effects can be the inability to make decisions, concentrate, frequent forgetfulness, hyper sensitivity to criticism and mental blocks.
(d) Psychological Effects. The Increased blood glucose level, increased heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, dilation of pupils, difficulty in breathing, hot and cold spells can be said to be some of the psychological effects of stress.
(e) Health Effects. Stress has its effects on the human body and may result in the aggravation of asthma, chest and back pains, coronary heart disease, diarrhoea, dizziness, frequent urination, insomnia, ulcers and loss of sexual interest.
16. Effect of Stress on Personality. Stress also has an effect on shaping the personality of individuals. The two distinct types emerging as type ‘A’ and type ‘B’ personalities. There exist striking differenced between these. As the characteristics of these are not relevant to this dissertation the same are not discussed.
17. Pressure and Stress. Expectations out of a person result in pressure. The pressure can manifest in physical as well as psychological forms. Onset of stress is a byproduct of this pressure. Pressure like stress is best at the optimum level that enhances performance.
18. Stress and Frustration. A thwarted motive leads to frustration. It may be due to some obstacle that blocks the progress towards a desired goal or by absence of an appropriate goal. Frustration may arise from outer (environment) or inner (personal) sources. Frustration also manifestation of stress, and can find physical or psychological forms of expression.