Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is. The only problem in your life is your mind?s resistance to life as it unfolds.? ~ Dan Millman
Stress is a term most people are all too familiar with. It is a state of strain resulting from demanding circumstances that refuse to relent in one?s daily life.
Stress is a concept that may be divided into two unique sects: mental and emotional stress. Under the emotional stress cluster falls the individualized social stress.
Social stress is a term that refers to strain that is formed as a result of one?s relationships and their social environment. This may include stress from one?s friendship groups, academic competition, or struggles at home.
This term is not recognized as a major type of stress, but it is nonetheless one of the most common types experienced by society.
A survey conducted on social stress by a high school student studying emotional stress collected a wide variety of opinions about the stresses of relationships formed as a student, voiced by the students of Prosper High School.
The students recognize that social stress is a vast problem faced by many students, but it?s often overlooked by the bureaucrats of the education system. 92% of the student body believe they experience social stress on a daily basis. 84% of students claimed that adults exacerbate the social stress put on teenagers.
The students voted and claimed the three central causes of social stress to be academic struggles, perfectionism, and over scheduling, with 84% of students voting for academic struggles, 68% voting for perfectionism, and 64% voting for over scheduling, seeing as they were all allowed to vote for more than one cause.
64% of students that responded to the survey acknowledged that social stress is a top priority issue to resolve in society, and 60% answered that the best way to cope with social stress is to build a supportive network of friends that will help one with their stresses and troubles.
The final question asked in the survey was, ?Will social stress cause depression, anxiety, etc., if left untreated?? 100% of the students surveyed answered that they believed that social stress would definitely lead to mental health problems if overlooked.
What are the causes?
In his study, Vors describes the psychological implications of psychosocial stressors. He gives two main stressors and describes each of them in detail; Vors goes into depth about the psychoanalytic aspects of social stress and which situations prompt the brain to release certain chemicals to provoke an emotion and a reaction by a person.
Vors states that one of the two main causes of social stress is failure because it leads to a loss of self-esteem and social standing. He explains that failure leads to a higher social stress level, because it is an important part of our self-identity, and is also how people characterize other human beings.
The second psychosocial stressor described in the article is the feeling of uncontrollability. Vors explains that uncontrollability creates an atmosphere of failure in the brain because the individual is unable to take action to create success, which increases cortisol levels and decreases self-esteem.
A continuity found in both stressors would be that in both stressors would be that the end result is always a decreased self-esteem, which brings a major contribution to social stress.
Effects of Social Stress
In his academic journal, Stankiewicz explains the detrimental effects of long-term social stress. He is able to describe this using a detailed experiment that was conducted by him, in which he used mice to prove his theory that social stress has extremely destructive effects on the average mammal, mentally and physically.
In order to test his theory, Stankiewicz conducted an experiment using average mice. In order to implement social stress onto the animals, Stankiewicz forced the mice to constantly be surrounded by other mice from the same litter. This built a bond of familiarity between all of the mice.
Then, after twelve weeks of invariably being surrounded by their littermates, each individual mouse was put into a separate cage for three weeks before results and effects of the mice were recorded.
The results showed the mice actively emitting the Arginine Vasopressin hormone inside the hippocampus, which is a chemical known to affect anxiety, memory, and increase blood pressure. The mice were also shown to have developed small ulcers, and brain damage.
Stankiewicz explains that this same process is how social stress causes major mental-health illnesses such as depression and anxiety; it is created by the brain releasing certain chemicals when under social stress for elongated periods of time
When the brain is put under certain social stressors, it chooses to release certain chemicals or hormones that it believes will help one cope with the stress he or she is being put under. Examples of chemicals or hormones that the brain emits to cope with stressful situations include Glutamate, Dopamine, and Serotonin.
In excessive amounts, these chemicals may cause serious mental illnesses. Excessive social stress that is felt at school or home is essential to the causation of many common and uncommon mental illnesses felt by students.
Even more, Stankiewicz states that physical illnesses are caused by excessive amounts of social stress, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and ulcers.
Solutions to Excessive Social Stress
There is no absolute cure for social stress. However, there are many ways in which excessive social stress may be reduced.
One of such ways would be to talk to those close to you. Fix broken relationships through communication. Talking about your social anxiety to a close peer, or just using communication to fix a healthy relationship are ways in which one can relieve some stresses.
Another way in which one may relieve some emotional stresses would be to rid oneself of toxic relationships. These are relationships that deteriorate one?s mental state and cause excessive and unnecessary strain on one?s mental and emotional state. Ridding oneself of these relationships may allow one to have a lighter and more stress free mental state.
Social stress is one mental illness that cannot be cured with something as easy as a substance. It is one such that requires true effort and strength to relieve. But relief is attainable, as long as one agrees to open up and show true determination to achieve relief.