Stress seems to be a ubiquitous terms these days. What is it? Is it really on the increase? Why might it be rising?
Quoting from Irish Jobs a useful definition of stress comes from the late Dr Anthony Claire; stress is what we experience when there is a significant lack of balance between the resources we possess and the demands made on us”. What kinds of resources are these? Possibilities are time, money, quality friends, a better half, moral support, a strong code of personal ethics, ipods and laptops, the positive energy of doing a good deed or job, etc, etc. What kinds of demands might be made of us? Possibilities: pressure to work longer hours for less money, consequent pressure to work harder to justify the same ends, increased multi-tasking and multi-jobbing with the consequent squeeze on other aspects of life.
The result is being out-of-whack. The balance is off-kilter. The resources aren’t matching up with the demands placed on them.
This is arguably a typical output of recessionary times with financial crises all around us. It’s enhanced by news of resource squandering of public servants who are supposed to have citizens interests at heart.
What about our students? Has their stress level gone up or down? On the surface of it, there’s no reason why it should be greater or lesser than in previous years. Courses don’t change dramatically from year to year. The volume and depth of coursework doesn’t change dramatically either. Yet, there is a report in todays Irish Times claiming that tcd is reporting a significant increase in students seeking mental health services. It is possible that the mental health service is advertising its services more widely and so more students are availing of it. Also possible is that tcd is enrolling more students who are prone to “Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder”.
Yet, it would be fool-hardy to assume that students aren’t under pressure. Prospects for graduates are grim at the moment. The thought of spending several years of your young life acquiring an education and then not having a job to exploit it in must be a signficant stress-inducer. Meanwhile, coursework has to be completed, classes attended, time spent in the library and exams prepared for and sat. Resources are being invested with no guarantee of a return as immediate as originally envisaged.
Is stress management really just a case of re-adjusting our mindsets? A good college education stands to any student regardless of whether the resulting job is the original one planned. It might happen that the resulting job is a better and more fulfilling one even if not found immediately. Maybe its a case of rolling with the punches and trying to put right the squandering of resources as we go so that a balance of sorts can be maintained.
If only there could be a fast way to do this!