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Stress Coping Mechanisms: The Silent Killer; Living with the Inevitable

Stress Coping Mechanisms

The Silent Killer; Living with the Inevitable


Have you ever been in an ignorant state where you believe the world is caving in and everything seems to be an emergency? Well, if you have been in that ‘state’ it is called stress. Stress is a process whereby an individual perceives and responds to events appraised( individual assessment-key) as overwhelming or threatening to one’s well-being and one believes that he or she does not have the capacity to manage same. Stress generally refers to three(3) things: the psychological perception of pressure, perception of inability to cope and the body's response to it. These changes can also be physical, mental, and emotional responses. Stress is a normal part of life. You can experience stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts. Your body responds to stress by producing chemicals and hormones to help you rise to the challenge. The heart rate increases, the brain works faster, and there is a sudden burst of energy. Although stress carries a negative connotation, at times it may be of some benefit. Stress can motivate us to do things in our best interests, such as study for exams, visit the doctor regularly, meet a deadline, exercise, and perform to the best of our ability at work. Such stress is called eustress.

“Pressure and stress are the common cold of the psyche(mind)”-Andrew Denton. So, since one can not escape stress as it is inevitable, let’s take a further look on the different types of stress, common presentations and how one can cope with them.

Types of stress

Stress management can be complicated and confusing because there are different types of stress, and each with its own characteristics, symptoms, duration and treatment approaches. According to the American Psychological Association, stress can be classified as being acute, episodic acute and chronic.

Acute stress is the most common type of stress. It is the body's immediate reaction to a new demand, challenge, or event. For example, you have to drop the children off at school, go to work for a business meeting, get an oil change, do grocery shopping, pick up the children from school, take them to football and dancing rehearsals, go home to make dinner, pick them up again, and do the laundry. Due to the lengthy list of activities, the person instantly reacts by getting overwhelmed by the tasks to be completed that day. Stress is also responsible for triggering the body’s fight-or-flight response. This is the type of stress that comes on quickly and often unexpectedly and doesn’t last too long.

Some symptoms acute stress includes:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and sadness
  • Headaches
  • Back pain and gut problems- diarrhea
  • Increased frequency of passing urine
  • Sweating
  • Heart racing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shaking of hands

These may appear for a short time, but subside when the stress eases.

Acute stress that is suffered too frequently is called episodic. This type of stress is usually seen in people who make self-inflicted, unrealistic or unreasonable demands. People with this kind of stress will oftentimes take on more responsibilities and projects than they can handle. They may seem like they’re constantly in a rush, always running late, and are disorganized. These types of persons have type A personality and with episodic acute stress can also be hostile towards others and have strained relationships.

A few evident symptoms of episodic include:

  • Longer periods of intermitted depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Emotional distress
  • Ceaseless worrying
  • Persistent physical symptoms similar to those found in acute stress
  • Coronary heart diseases, or other heart problems

Chronic stress on the other hand, is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period of time in which an individual perceives they have little or no control over. Chronic stress is never thrilling and never exciting. It eats away at you every day, year after year and it can be tremendously destructive. Chronic stress occurs when a person is in a repetitively stressful environment and cannot see any way out of their situation. 

Some symptoms of this type of stress include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Stroke
  • Sleep issues
  • Memory and concentration issues
  • Decline in functioning at home, school and work

Tips to Reduce Stress

Now that we have identified some of the common symptoms of acute, episodic and chronic stress, let us look at ways we can reduce stress. Stress that continues without relief can lead to a state called distress, which is a negative stress reaction. This may culminate in an anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, in depressive disorders and in substance use disorders such as alcohol misuse disorders. These can increase risk of suicidal thoughts, attempts and suicide. Distress can disturb the body's internal balance or equilibrium. Unfortunately, stress is inevitable and you can't eliminate it, despite your best efforts. You can, however, better prepare yourself for stress with several coping techniques.

You may begin with some of these steps:

  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Regular sleep
  • Laugh – it helps to relax muscles, lower blood pressure, and increase the oxygen level in your blood.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation – yoga is a great way to blend exercise with deep breathing.
  • Find a hobby and make time to enjoy it.
  • Spend time with people who make you happy.
  • Have a “laugh folder” on your computer full of things that make you smile.
  • Learn to manage your time more effectively.
  • Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events. (8 hours a day should be your goal, but there is a wide variation on the opinions of experts about how much rest is enough.)
  • Be sociable and be part of a social support network which provide source of hope and encouragement in good and bad experiences of life. There is mounting evidence that social interaction and social responsibility and roles can boost the immune system which helps lower stress.
  • Don't rely on alcohol, drugs, food or compulsive behaviours to reduce stress.
  • Develop problem solving approaches to challenging issues
  • Develop a positive approach to life challenges- see them as opportunity to grow rather than pitfalls to bring you down
  • Trust and reliance in supreme being that provides meaning, purpose and hope in the midst of life’s challenging experience e.g. Christianity
  • Talk to a doctor, friend, or counselor about your stress and measures to increase coping skills..

Stress can wreak havoc on the human body. It causes people to feel sick, tired, anxious, overwhelmed and may lead some to contemplate suicide. In the event where stress becomes uncontrollable, seek help from medical practitioners like psychologists or counsellors. They can help you learn more about the different kinds of stress, show you how to combat that stress and recommend coping mechanisms for use at home, school and work which will enhance your stress resilence. Do not allow stress to slowly kill you, instead give it wings and let it fly away.


American Psychological Association. Stress: the different kinds of stressAccessed 19/7/2019.

Dr. Kelly and Associates. (2014, January 29). “Coping with different kinds of Stress.” Retrieved from http://drkellys.co.uk/dealing-with-stress/

National Institute of Mental Health. Fact sheet on stress Accessed 19/7/2019.

Office on Women’s Health. Stress and your health fact sheet Accessed 22/7/2019.

Making Home Ownership a Reality through Financially Sound Decisions with your partners at the National Housing Trust

Making Home Ownership a Reality through Financially Sound Decisions



The road to homeownership is an exciting journey. It can give you a sense of personal satisfaction to have a home of your own to share and enjoy with family and friends. However, for many Jamaicans the thought of buying a house doesn’t just feel far away, but nearly impossible. With so many new developments and houses on the market and the high costs associated with home ownership, many Jamaicans are daunted and even demotivated. Like any major decision, one need to exercise careful considerations as home ownership should ideally be one such priority. After all, it is by far one of the biggest financial decisions one has to make in their lifetime. The key to making homeownership a reality is to ensure that you have a sound financial plan and a feasible budget to set aside money that will be needed for expenses such as making the deposit and other fees including closing costs, stamp duties, lawyer fees etc. It can be a very costly venture but with sound and early financial intervention, it is achievable. At the end of the day, it all comes down to saving and planning.


Special Education: Understanding Down Syndrome



Cute isn't she! Can you tell just by looking that something is wrong with her?                                                                                                                       

The Retired Principal: Leadership Lessons

The Retired Principal: Leadership Lessons by Mrs. Catherine Malcolm



I would imagine that very few persons who aspire to be a school leader would not be aiming to be successful. Principals, sometimes do not share experiences and insights with each other so as to facilitate shared learning experiences. This article has been written through a reflective lens to identify and highlight experiences gained in my years of experience in School leadership. As such, my focus is to highlight important lessons learnt in being an effective School leader. My role as an assessor with the NCEL programme  also provides me with in-depth knowledge of the programme and the opportunity to consider connections between my own past experiences and aspects of the NCEL training programme. 

Chronicles of a Principal Aspirant: Moving into the Era of Children First: A Paradigm of Change

Chronicles of a Principal Aspirant:  Moving into the Era of Children First: A Paradigm of Change

Lavern Stewart


The Challenge

School leadership is challenging especially in the context in which we now operate. There are evaluations based on test scores, budget cuts, strong development of an accountability culture and the constant need to find creative ways of engaging stakeholders and promoting school success.  On top of that, schools have students who are living in extreme poverty; students with social-emotional issues, and in many cases, leaders are expected to take on the role of parents and caregivers. The educational landscape is changing rapidly and students are becoming more diverse than ever and they continue to bring many of society’s problems to the school.  It's hard...


Growing Early STEM Talent: An Imperative for Increased Tertiary STEM Enrolment

Growing Early STEM Talent: An Imperative for Increased Tertiary STEM Enrolment

Author: Novlet Alicia Plunkett

The term Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has been in the public sphere for over 15 years, with initiatives designed across different countries to increase literacy in this area. Despite the efforts, significant progress with STEM has been hindered due, in part, to the absence of a clear understanding of what STEM is, and the varied definitions that exist. It is believed that existence of the varying perspectives on STEM is as a result of the wide variety of individuals and groups with an interest in the area, and the differing roles they play in schools, institutions of higher education, industries, government and the wider society (Breiner, Harkness, Johnson & Kochler, 2012). These stakeholders have a tendency to define STEM from the perspective of its impact on their lives. For the purpose of this discourse, the operational definition on STEM education, outlined below, will be used.

Jamaica on the cutting edge of Curriculum Design: The National Standards Curriculum

Jamaica on the cutting edge of Curriculum Design: The National Standards Curriculum (NSC)

Mrs. Lena Buckle-Scott


The Education System Transformation Programme (ESTP) has been working assiduously since 2009 to modernize Jamaica’s Education System in keeping with the 2004 Task Force Report on Education Reform. The ESTP has made considerable progress regarding: the modernization and transformation of the Ministry, as well as, legislative and policy reform and system improvement. Curriculum Reform has been an integral component in the transformation of the system. The curricula for primary and lower secondary levels have been completely revised. The revision of the curricula commenced in 2012 and between 2014 – 2016 there was a pilot after which, implementation commenced on a phased basis in September 2016.

Mass Customization in Education


Mass Customization in Education

What is Mass Customization and how can it be applied to Education?

Mass customization in a general context, according to Investopedia, refers to the design, production, marketing and delivery of customized products and services on a mass basis. It means that customers can select, order, and receive a specially configured product--often choosing from hundreds of product options to meet their individual needs.   Build-to-order is a common synonym for mass customization. It makes for the affordability of more goods of very good quality on a wider range of economic levels according to the demand of the customer. Can education be treated in the same way? Can it be tailored to the demand of the individual learner thereby providing new opportunities for creating tailor made learning pathways that respond to the individual characteristics of a high number of students? Let us think carefully, What if we were to consider mass customization within the education system? I would like to proffer that it is about time we commence using mass customization as an approach for ensuring that we meet the needs of every single Jamaican child, who is deserving of the kind of quality education that will assist him or her to take his or her rightful place in society.

Leading with Self-Efficacy (Leading from Within) – Practical Strategies

Leading with Self-Efficacy (Leading from Within) – Practical Strategies

Mrs. Grace Baston


“People’s beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities. Ability is not a fixed property; there is a huge variability in how you perform. People who have a sense of self efficacy bounce back from failures; they approach things in terms of how to handle them rather than worrying about what can go wrong.” Albert Bandura, Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control, 1997.

We are told that one of the most deleterious legacies of the colonial experience is a crippling self-doubt in the colonized people.  We are plagued by a lack of trust in our own ability to act effectively and even after decades of political independence, still look to powers outside ourselves for validation and the solutions to our problems. If Bandura is correct, then leaders in our Caribbean context have to confront and overcome not just a personal, but a culturally reinforced sense of insecurity, in order to arrive at the self-efficacy necessary for leadership. There are no shortcuts or simple formulas for undoing the result of centuries of indoctrination, but there are internal resources on which we can draw to nurture our confidence, our self-reliance and our faith in our own capacity to effect transformation.