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Common Causes of Stress

Stress is considered a normal routine in human life. This is because people must think and meet daily experiences that result in stress (Michie, 2002). Therefore, it is said that stress leads to motivation which translates to efficient working such as emerging the best in class, getting a promotion, and even achieving success in a marathon (Bhui, 2016). It is, however, worth noting that when stress exceeds the recommended levels, it becomes a psychological problem. As well, when stress extends to longer periods, it rather becomes a problem that influences the normal performance of individuals in their daily activities (Reddy, Menon, & Thattil, 2018). Take an instance where a student is stressed about reaching school early to ensure every lesson is attended. Then this cause of stress is important in motivating the student to wake up early and get to school on time (Ayele, Yilma, & Mengistu, 2018). Nevertheless, in a situation where there is not a long-lasting solution set for in-time-arrival at school, the stress becomes a problem that can even interfere with the general performance of students. Negative stress is experienced across the world by many people and is thus considered a health condition (Michaela, Sarah, & Parker, 2020). In the United States of America, more than 70% of the people admitted to having experienced emotional and physical stress symptoms hence showing its dominance (Patterson, 2021). As such, a lasting remedy is needed to ensure that the psychological issue is solved. While there are many means of handling stress such as counseling among other hospital-related remedies, no better way can solve stress other than identifying its possible causes and defining means through which such can be controlled to minimize stress and its corresponding effects (Geetika, Harish, & Kumar, 2015). Stress results from several factors. Generally, the most common causes of stress include job conditions such as being unhappy with the role or lack of promotion as well; heavy workload under strict deadlines, extended working hours, and insecurity at places of work (Harshal et al, 2021). In addition, social matters like divorce and separation from loved ones, and the death of loved ones can result in stress. Psychological problems such as anger, grief, depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety also contribute significantly to stress levels (Rajesh, Anil, & Prasad, 2015). For instance, a depressed or grieving person has a lot in mind regarding how he/ she can overcome the situation at hand. Equally, an anxious and low esteemed person is never settled and always experiences the condition of fear of missing out and this increases the levels of stress (Saila, 2019). The perception and attitude towards situations also result in stress. Take a scenario where someone’s car is stolen, then the person will express less stress when he/ she is sure the insurance will compensate for the lost property. Nevertheless, when the person has no surety of compensation, this results in a stressful attitude. Students experience several causes of stress (Ali, Saadia, Alvi, & Silvet, 2012). First, students are subjected to strict rules while in school ranging from the time of reporting and lecture, the strict deadline for assignment submission to even the pressure to outdo others in performance (Luckmizankari, 2017). Similarly, students who double task, for instance, work and learn at the same, have more pressure to deliver on both sides which ends up in stress. In terms of gender, then women are historically perceived to have more stress than men (Bedewy & Gabriel, 2015). This is because women's scores are high in terms of emotional exhaustion whereas men feel more depersonalized, a difference associated with the genes in the sex chromosomes and the Production Of Gonadal Hormones (Yang, Chen, & Chen, 2021). Women, unlike men, have cognitive and behavioral procedures of handling stress considered as difficult, hostile, inexhaustible, and harmful hence the perceived stress level that is higher than that of males.

Stress among Students

While there are established the many factors resulting in stress, these factors are endless and emerge daily which has not made it possible to exhaustively study them. Therefore, a research gap is created where factors influencing stress in people can be studied. In line with the gap, this study was established to discover the influence of gender, number of working hours, and means of transport to school on the students’ level of stress.

Objective 1: To establish the influence of transport means to school on students' stress levels.

Question 1: Is there a significant influence of transport means to school on students' stress levels?

Null Hypothesis (H0): There is no significant influence of transport means to school on students' stress levels.

Alternative Hypothesis (HA): There is a significant influence of transport means to school on students' stress levels.

Objective 2: To establish the influence of working hours on students' stress levels.

Question 2: Is there a significant influence of working hours on students' stress levels?

Null Hypothesis (H0): There is no significant influence of working hours on students' stress levels.

Alternative Hypothesis (HA): There is a significant influence of working hours on students' stress levels.

Objective 3: To establish the influence of gender on students' stress levels.

Question 3: Is there a significant influence of gender on students' stress levels?

Null Hypothesis (H0): There is no significant influence of gender on students' stress levels.

Alternative Hypothesis (HA): There is a significant influence of gender on students' stress levels.

This section describes the process of study design, participants, materials, and procedure.  

This is an empirical research design since mainly questionnaires were used for collecting information.

The population of interest was psychology students at the Leeds Trinity University from which, a random sample of 942 respondents was recruited. The average age of respondents was 21.99 (SD=5.92) with the youngest and oldest participants being 19 and 54 years respectively. By gender, there were more females (n=666, 71.6%) than males (n=120, 12.9%).

The main material used in this case was the perceived stress scale which is a 10-item self-report measure. This questionnaire was a Likert scale one containing five options: Never (0), Almost Never (1), Sometimes (2), Fairly often (3), Very often (4). As well questions were basically on the signs of perceived stress over the past month. The second material was the general questionnaire for the participant demographics and information necessary to determine the perceived stress in students such as age, on and off campus, hours in paid work per day over the past 7 days, the average number of hours slept over the past 7 days, units of alcohol over the past 7 days, distance from school, transport mode, the physical activity and visual appearance of the survey. Lastly, there was a computer used in sending questionnaire emails and consent forms.

This study was an online interview where the questionnaires were sent to the participants through emails. Before the questionnaires, a consent form containing the study purpose was presented to the participant from which they either accepted to continue with the study or not. From the experimental procedure, those who did not sign the form had their interview end immediately while those who signed and agreed to partake of the study were each presented with the Perceived stress scale questionnaire and the general questionnaires. This was a two online survey where two times point data was taken one week apart. This was done for variables that possibly could change as a result of stress such as alcohol consumption. Upon filling of the questionnaires, they were submitted through email and the data were recorded in SPSS for analysis.   

Objectives of the Study

The data having been imported to SPSS did not require much cleaning. Nevertheless, the first treatment involved compensating for missing values for the dependent variable (stress at time 1) using the mean of the available observations. Having every observation, the data was ready for exploration and analysis. Next, the variable was tested for the existence of outliers and this resulted in figure 1 below.

Boxplot for stress at time 1

Fig 1. Boxplot for stress at time 1

The boxplot confirmed the existence of outliers on the right side of the data. These were removed and another test was conducted to confirm their exit as shown in figure 2 below.

New boxplot after removing the outliers

Fig 2. New boxplot after removing the outliers

The new variable has no outliers hence the problem is solved.

Assumption test: Normality test and variance homogeneity

The test of normality was done using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test under the null hypothesis that the data is normally distributed. The resulting p-value was .00 which is lower than the 5% level of significance hence leading to a conclusion that the data was not normally distributed. Therefore, there was required data transformation. The Breusch-Pagan test of variance homogeneity on the transformed data (logstress) resulted in a p-value of greater than 5% level of significance (p=.114) which leads to the conclusion that this assumption was met.

Since the data were not normally distributed, the dependent variable was transformed by introducing a new variable consisting of log10 of every observation, and the new variable is called Logstressattime1 and this is used for the two-way ANOVA test.

Descriptive statistics test was carried out on the scores of stress at time 1, and the number of working hours worked for pay in the last 7days. These are presented in the table below.

Summary statistics

Table 1. Summary statistics

On average, the participants worked for 6.73 (SD=10.53) hours per day. The larger standard deviation value expresses that the variation was high for the number of hours worked. On the other hand, the average mean stress at time 1 was 2.17 (SD=.40) with minimum and maximum scores being 1.20 and 3.10 respectively.

A two-way ANOVA test was carried out to establish the effects of gender, mode of transport to work and hours worked per week on stress scores and this is presented in table 2 below.

Table 2. Univariate ANOVA result

Univariate ANOVA result

From the table, there is a significant influence of gender on stress scores at time 1 (F (1, 725) = 5.47, p<.01) same as the mode of travel (F (5, 725) = 23.42, p<.01) and hours at work (F (24, 725) = 11.97, p<.001) thus their respective null hypothesis are rejected and a conclusion made that these variables were evident influencers of the stress levels. Further, there was a significant interaction effect of gender by travel mode (F (2, 725) = 29.43, p<.05), gender by hours worked (F (2, 725) = 30.58, p<.01), and mode of travel by working hours (F (4, 725) = 35.00, p<.01) on the stress levels. The variables explained 45.5% of the model variation which is average.

Design and Participants

A post hoc test conducted revealed that females had a significantly higher stress score than males (diff=.03, p<.008). Similarly, the stress level was high among those who traveled to school by foot then cars, and finally cyclists. 

Discussion and Conclusion

This study sought to establish the influence of gender, hours of work, and the means of transport to school on the students' level of stress. These variables were established to substantially influence the level of stress. Specifically, females were more stressed than males and the same as those who went to school on foot. The level of stress also increased with the number of hours worked. Comparing this study to past works of literature, then the results is similar to that of Harshal et al. (2021) who established that students who use difficult means to school such as walking alongside being caught up in traffic jams tend to be more stressed than those who stay close to school as well as those who easily access the institution. As well, the result is similar to the finding by Michaela and colleagues (2020) who discovered that those who spend much time at work have a lot of balancing to perform which increases the stress levels. When combined with the school-going activity, then Bedewy and Gabriel (2015) then those working for longer hours have a lot of pressure which translates to more stress, a result similar to the one in this study. In the final comparison, Yang and colleagues (2021) found that females are more stressed than males, a finding that’s similar to the one in this study.

The study had one limitation. While there are many influencers of stress among students, only working hours, gender, and means of transport to school are analyzed hence there is a variable omission that may have influenced the result significance. Therefore, I suggest a further study that will incorporate as many influencers of stress as possible to control confounding.

In conclusion, the study discovered that gender, working hours, and the transport means to school have a substantial influence on students’ stress levels. This finding can be compared with other works of literature to establish a valid conclusion regarding the influencers of stress. It can also be used for study purposes and as a background for future studies.

References

Ali, R., Saadia, F., Alvi, M., & Silvet, N. (2012). Analysis of Factors Affecting the Stress Level of Female Engineering Students. Global Journal of HUMAN SOCIAL SCIENCE Arts & Humanities, 12(10).

Ayele, M. A., Yilma, G. K., & Mengistu, F. (2018). Prevalence of Stress and Associated Factors among Regular Students at Debre Birhan Governmental and Nongovernmental Health Science Colleges North Showa Zone, Amhara Region, Ethiopia 2016. Psychiatry Journal. doi:10.1155/2018/7534937

Bedewy, D., & Gabriel, A. (2015). Examining perceptions of academic stress and its sources among university students: The Perception of Academic Stress Scale. Health Psychology Open. doi:10.1177/2055102915596714

Bhui, K. D.-M. (2016). Perceptions of work stress causes and effective interventions in employees working in public, private and non-governmental organizations: a qualitative study. BJPsych Bulletin, 40(6), 318-325.

Geetika, J., Harish, K. T., & Kumar, A. (2015). Psycho-Social Factors Causing Stress: A Study of Teacher Educators. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(4).

Harshal et al. (2021). Study of Stress Management and factors causing Stress in Youth. Journal of Interdisciplinary Cycle Research, 13(5), 875.

Luckmizankari, P. (2017). Factors Affecting On Examination Stress among Undergraduates: An Investigation from Eastern University. ICONIC RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING JOURNALS, 1(4).

Michaela, C. P., Sarah, E. H., & Parker, A. G. (2020). The impact of stress on students in secondary school and higher education. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 25(1), 104-112. doi:10.1080/02673843.2019.1596823

Michie, S. (2002). CAUSES AND MANAGEMENT OF STRESS AT WORK. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 59, 67-72.

Patterson, E. (2021, 5 08). Stress Facts and Statistics. The recovery village.

Rajesh, V., Anil, K., & Prasad, K. (2015). A Study on Causes of Stress among the Employees and Its Effect on the Employee Performance at the Workplace in an International Agricultural Research Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana, India. European Journal of Business and Management, 7(25).

Reddy, K. J., Menon, K. R., & Thattil, R. (2018). Academic Stress and its Sources Among University Student. Biomed Pharmacol J, 11(1).

Saila, G. (2019). Factors Causing Stress And Coping Strategies Among College Teachers With Special Reference To Degree And Pg Colleges. International Journal of Education, Modern Management, Applied Science & Social Science, 1(4), 31-35.

Yang, C., Chen, A., & Chen, Y. (2021). College students’ stress and health in the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of academic workload, separation from school, and fears of contagion. PLoS ONE, 16(2). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0246676

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