Identifying stress among UTM students

Chapter 1Introduction
Background of Study

Stress is the expressive and physical strain caused by our response to pressure from the outside world. Common stress reactions include anxiety, bad temper, inability to concentrate, and a variety of physical symptoms that include headache and a fast heartbeat. It’s almost impossible to live without some stress. (Whitman, 1985)

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The ability to identify when we are under stress and what is stressing us can greatly improve both our mental and physical well being. A model that is useful in understanding stress among students is the person-environmental model. According to a variation of this model, stressful events can be appraised by an individual as “challenging” or “threatening” (Lazarus, 1966).

Students respond to college in a variety of ways. For some students, university is stressful because it is a rapid change from high school. For others, separation from home is a source of stress. Although some stress is necessary for personal growth to occur, the amount of stress can devastate a student and affect the ability to cope.

Often, undergraduate students perceive that faculty exert great power over their lives and feel that they live in a state of substantial powerlessness (Altbach, 1970). Another source of stress is the difficulty of achieving social intimacy. It is difficult to find a friend or maintain a relationship with an existing one.

The solution to reduce a student stress is providing students with a sense of control over their education, information about what to expect, and feedback regarding what can be done to improve their performance. Students who do not feel powerless will adopt their own coping strategies. (Whitman, 1985) Immediate coping such as dealing with one’s own thoughts and feelings, can be facilitated by accessible professional and peer counseling, student support groups, and adequate faculty advising. Active coping, that is, dealing with the actual stressful situations or events, can be strengthened by providing students with early success.

Excellent teaching cannot be overrated as a key to preventing and minimizing stress among students. Sometimes, faculty may not be good teachers if they are themselves stressed and if they feel unrewarded for good teaching. How to reduce stress among faculty and reward good teaching are questions for further study.

Solutions for alleviating stress include improved orientation for new graduate students, more flexibility in core requirements, and expanding the role of faculty advisors. Solutions suggested for reducing stress in college students include “stress inoculation” — for example, informing students in advance of what difficulties they might face and encouraging them to develop their own strategies to achieve personal goals. Other suggestions include improving campus mental health services and organizing peer counseling and self-help groups. (Falk 1975; Hirsch and Keniston 1970; Katz and others 1969).

Problem Statement

Stress is any situation that evokes negative thoughts and feelings in a person. (Whitman, 1985)The same situation is not evocative or stressful for all people, and all people do not experience the same negative thoughts and feelings when stressed. A critical issue concerning stress among students is its effect on learning.

Based on the research conducted in a local public university in Malaysia, the adjustment difficulties faced by first year students were found to be academic problems, health problems, financial crisis as well as social and personal problems. (Kolko, 1980)

The aim of this particular study is to assess what relationship perceived levels of stress in university students have and what suitable solutions can be recommend these variables have on levels of anxiety and depression. It must be noted that this study uses participants from the lower end of a normal distribution and therefore the analysis is on a skewed population sample. The participants will be UTM students.

Purpose of Study

In this case the purpose of the study is to identify the stress among the students in UTM. Nevertheless, the study will also will focus on the effects and solution of the students stress in UTM.

Research Objective

To achieve the target, several objectives are outline as follow:

To identify the student stress in UTM.
To determine the factors of student stress in UTM.
To investigate the effects of the stress towards student in UTM.
To provide solution and suggestion to improve and encourage students to handle stress in UTM.
Scope of the Study

The study will focus on the students in UTM only. This research will study through questionnaire survey where the survey only studies on random students selected in UTM. They are chosen as the respondents because they play a very important role in the university and are also involved in the teaching and learning in UTM.

Limitation of Study

The study will focus among the students in UTM. The conclusion of this study will represent the stress of the UTM random selected students only. There is several limitation of this study which is:

The respondents of this study will be limited on UTM students in Skudai, Johor area only due to the limitation of the time, distance and also cost.
The result of the study only accurate within the duration of the study only because the planning and development in teaching and learning will be change in future. Therefore, the result might be different in the future.
Importance of the Study
Provide a guideline to handle the stress among the students more effectively.
It is hopeful that the result of this research may give contribution to further study on the university.
The study can also help the university to monitor the students closely.
This study is used to determine the major sources of stress, effects and the solutions among university students.
Chapter 2
Literature Review

The literature review examines relevant studies in the student field and highlights of most relevant reference in this stress topic. The review includes a detailed description of the factors of stress, effects of stress and solution that can help to reduce the effects of stress on student’s performance.

Factors of Student Stress

Stress is a necessary thing in human beings’ lives because stress adds flavor, challenge and opportunity to our world. Nearly no one feels free from stress and each of us defines stress somewhat differently (Youngs, 1986). It is also a part of every student’s daily life. In the right dose, stress can be healthy, or even enjoyable. However, it provides many benefits; it can be very damaging for students when stress becomes excessive. Stress can harm students’ health, happiness, work performance, relationships and personal development.

Studying can be as stressful as working because studying is a process that requires a lot of determination. However, stress in learning is also a subjective phenomenon. For some students, making a presentation in front of the class is not stressful while but for others it may mean is the end of the world. Some students consider quizzes as good challenges to their potential while others find them hard to handle. In other words, how one labels, interprets, thinks about and reacts to events in one’s life has a lot to do with determining whether those events are stressful (Corey & Corey, 1997). Moreover, students who prepare themselves for such events are most likely to experience less stress than those who fail to do so.

Ineffective Time Management

Many students reported experiencing stress during their studies in universities. One of the causes of stress among college and university students is ineffective time management. Quality time is something often neglected by students whether good or average. The good students often over-scheduled their time for study-related tasks while others under planned their valued time with inadequate activities thus increasing their stress level.

Furthermore, a lack of proper time management brings stress to students. With a good time management it will help students become more organized in their academic and social life. Some are lucky enough to be blessed with lecturers who teach them the ways of proper management of time. But for most, it is left up to them to learn about it the difficult way. Without proper time management, students might have overloaded schedules because they will have a tendency to put things off until the last moment. Managing coursework and preparing for exams are stressful for every student.

Expectation of Academic Achievement

Another famous stressor among students is the expectation of academic achievement. This includes the expectation of examination performance and expectation of the academic results. A survey conducted by West and Wood (1970) reported that 65 percent of 331 students in nine American high schools experience stress just by thinking about the examination before they actually sit for it. Meanwhile, 59 percent of the students expressed that low achievement in the examination also causes a high level of stress.

Perhaps one of the obvious mistakes in stress management among students, besides time management, is the inability to plan for upcoming obstacles in the study process. Students should foresee challenges and problems and prepare themselves for anticipatory stress which is more manageable. They can gather information on possible stressors through various ways including discussion with their seniors, advisors, lecturers, counselors and other resources in the university.

However, many students are unaware of the need to prepare in advance for academic challenges. This will lead to reactive stress coping style once they experience situational stress. If the students fail to manage the situational stress effectively, it may later lead to residual or chronic stress. Frustration, conflict, change and pressure have been identified by Weiten and Lloyd (1994) as the main elements of psychological stress. Continuous stress can result in burnout among students; the students usually feel emotionally exhausted and lose interest in their studies, thus neglecting their pursuit of studies. According to Corey and Corey (1997), the problem with students is that they do not notice the warning signs that they have pushed themselves to the breaking point. They give too much time to their studies and assignments that they fail to realize the importance of maintaining relationships and spending some leisure time for themselves.

New University Environment

The cause of stress for university students is the new university environment itself. Human emotion and behavior are influenced by the surrounding. Change of social circumstances can make the university students stress. (Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004, pg. 157-8)

If they go to university straight out of high school, they face the difficult challenges. Leaving home, separating from their parents, and beginning the process of finding their own identity as an adult and their place in the world.

New Relationships

Next, relationships among new friends and partners will bring stress to students. Students often seem more interested in the view out of the window or their pretty classmate in the next row than in what the instructor is saying.

The Competitive Circumstances and Exams

Moreover, university students want to get good grades and want to have higher scores than their friends since the course evaluation is based on the statistics. The stress happens when desires are not the same. They have an intense need to fit in and to be accepted by their friends. The serious competitive environment makes the students try hard to adapt themselves stressfully.

Parental Pressure

Parental pressure is also the most important source of stress for the university students. Children do not want to disappoint their parents, so they overwork and do everything to reach the goals no matter how much stress it produces.

To avoid the undesirable disadvantages of stress, students should consider the causes of stress important as it help students make plan to reduce it.

Effects of Stress
Effects of stress to three categories (Dr. Jay Pearson, 2003)

Stress happens when the body has to react suddenly to certain situations either mentally, emotionally, or physically.


The heart pumps faster and making the heart pound and blood pressure rise which can be said as some people experience palpitations. Muscle tension increases, leading to headaches, dizziness, jaw ache and even insomnia. The mouth goes dry and digestion slows causing “butterflies” in the stomach. (Dr. Jay Pearson, 2003)Breathing is faster and less efficient which can lead to over breathing and breathlessness. Changes in the flow of blood to the skin can cause sweating, blushing or clammy hands and feet.


A certain amount of stress can be mentally stimulating but too much can affect our thinking ability. Thoughts may become disorderly and confused. Thinking becomes focused on worrying. We may become preoccupied with problems. It becomes much harder to make decisions or find solutions to problems. Thinking negatively and fearing the worst increases worry and stress.

Stress when handled positively is beneficial to us. It helps keep us alert, active, and more energetic. When stress gets too much it turns into distress, and if we handle it in a negative manner, it begins having an effect on us mentally. This is really bad for us because it can strain our relations with everyone around us and deteriorate our mental condition.

When stress is handled in a negative manner it usually leads to depression. To come out of this depression many take the harmful help of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, all of which give a sense of stress relief. In reality your body and mental still remains stressed, and these substances just help make matters worse.

There are numerous mental responses as illustrated by the following list of some signs and symptoms of stress to our mental. (Bill Burniece, 2008)

Increased frustration, irritability, edginess
Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams
Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion
Trouble learning new information
Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts

People respond to stress in many different ways. Common emotional effects are irritability, impatience, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, self-doubt, panic, and despondency, feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, hopelessness, unhappiness, emotional withdrawal and depression.

Stress can change people’s behavior towards one another. We may become less sociable, less caring, more hostile and insensitive towards others. When stress is accompanied by anger we may become less tolerant. Many people respond to stress by eating, drinking or smoking much more than is usual: some engage in risk taking behavior. Students often complain that when they feel stressed they find it hard to concentrate, feel tired all the time, perhaps start to miss lectures and deadlines and feel they can’t cope.

That extra rush of adrenalin, released during stress gives us a needed burst of speed when we escape from danger or an extra surge of power when we decide to stand and fight. However, when we fail to release stress by coping with life’s situations, it builds up until we either get angry or collapse.

The consequences of stress can cause specific disorders in both mind and body. In addition to raising levels of the stress hormones, a buildup of stress can cause headaches, digestive problems, eating disorders, insomnia, fatigue, and lower our resistance to other illnesses like colds and flu.

When we are overflowed by a sequence of stressful situations, our bodies don’t have time to adjust and our minds don’t have to make the decisions necessary to deal with stress in a healthy manner. This is episodic stress. Over time, unrelieved stress, like episodic stress, can result in increased heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure, which in turn put undue stress on bodily organs such as the heart and lungs. (Dr. Jay Pearson, 2003)

Emotionally, stress can near literally burn us out. Long-term stress becomes chronic stress. Stress becomes inconspicuous, hiding behind feelings of hopelessness, constant anxiety, depression, and in severe cases serious mental aberrations such as paranoia and delusions. Of course, the worst-case consequence of stress is suicide.

Just as each individual differs from the next in his or her responses, there is no set limit as to how much stress each of us can endure. Each of us seems to be endowed with our own stress “thermometer”. When the mercury rises or plummets, in order to stay healthy we need to have a planned strategy to manage stress. We need to know and use a few stress management tips that can make all the difference in the consequences of stress. (Dr. Jay Pearson, 2003)

Overall Effects on Physically, Mentally and Emotionally

Stress is complicated for scientists to identify because it is a highly subjective incident that differs for each of us. Things that are stressful for some individuals can be pleasurable for others.

As demonstrated in the above list, stress can have wide ranging effects on emotions, mood and behavior. Equally important but often less appreciated are effects on various systems, organs and tissues all over the body, as illustrated by the following diagram.

In fact, it’s hard to think of any disease in which stress cannot play an aggravating role or any part of the body that is not affected or not. This list will show the extensive results of stress are increasingly in human being.

Solution and Suggestion of Stress
Keep stress under control

The key to success is to think positively and take control of your stress and anxiety by learning effective techniques to combat it.

The most helpful method of dealing with stress is learning how to manage the stress that comes along with any new challenge, good or bad. Here are some things that can help keep stress under control. (Whitman, 1985)

Take a stand against over scheduling.

If you’re feeling stretched, consider cutting out an activity or two, opting for just the ones that are most important to you.

Be realistic.

We don’t try to be perfect – no one is. And expecting others to be perfect can add to your stress level. If you need help on something, like schoolwork, ask for it.

Get a good night’s sleep.

Getting enough sleep helps keep your body and mind in top shape, making you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors. Because the biological “sleep clock” shifts during adolescence, many teens prefer staying up a little later at night and sleeping a little later in the morning. But if you stay up late and still need to get up early for school, you may not get all the hours of sleep you need. Go to bed early, every night, before 10pm is best. It’s almost impossible to function at your best if you are not getting quality sleep every night. This is a very worthwhile discipline that will help you enjoy your activities and be more successful.

Learn to relax

The body’s natural antidote to stress is called the relaxation response. It’s your body’s opposite of stress, and it creates a sense of well-being and calm. The chemical benefits of the relaxation response can be activated simply by relaxing. You can help trigger the relaxation response by learning simple breathing exercises and then using them when you’re caught up in stressful situations. And ensure you stay relaxed by building time into your schedule for activities that are calming and pleasurable: reading a good book or making time for a hobby, spending time with your pet, or just taking a relaxing bath.

Relaxing bodily tension in order to reduce the physical sensations of stress is a good place to start. If your body is free of tension your mind tends to be relaxed. This helps you concentrate and study, take decisions and solve problems. When you are relaxed, you can view each task as a positive challenge, and use stress as a stimulus to help you to carry it out giving you a relaxing glow of achievement afterwards.

Treat your body well.

Experts agree that getting regular exercise helps people manage stress. And eat well to help your body get the right fuel to function at its best. It’s easy when you’re stressed out to eat on the run or eat junk food or fast food. But under stressful conditions, the body needs its vitamins and minerals more than ever. Some people may turn to substance abuse as a way to ease tension. Although alcohol or drugs may seem to lift the stress temporarily, relying on them to cope with stress actually promotes more stress because it wears down the body’s ability to bounce back.

Watch what you’re thinking.

Your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see things. A healthy dose of optimism can help you make the best of stressful circumstances. Even if you’re out of practice, or tend to be a bit of a pessimist, everyone can learn to think more optimistically and reap the benefits.

Solve the little problems.

Learning to solve everyday problems can give you a sense of control. But avoiding them can leave you feeling like you have little control and that just adds to stress. Develop skills to calmly look at a problem, figure out options, and take some action toward a solution. Feeling capable of solving little problems builds the inner confidence to move on to life’s bigger ones – and it and can serve you well in times of stress.

Try to stand back and look at the problem carefully. Break it down into manageable parts. Talk it through with someone else, brainstorm solutions, or get help if you need it. Try to manage your time effectively and learn to say “NO”. Avoidance won’t make the problem go away and can often make it worse. Leaving everything to the last minute is a major source of stress for students. Think about why you are finding it hard to get started: uncertainty about how to do the assignment, fear of being judged or failing? Starting a piece of work effectively reduces stress levels as it frees your mind, putting the thoughts of failure back into perspective. If you’ve had a row or a misunderstanding with someone, it rarely helps to avoid the issue. Talking it through with the other person or with someone outside the situation, often helps you express your feelings, regain a sense of proportion, and identify a way of resolving the differences.

Accept the Inevitable

Accept what you cannot change. Develop patience with the process of going to university. There is a lot it can offer you.

Practice Gratitude

Be grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow and build a better future for you.

Get Organized

Write down your homework assignments so they don’t get lost. Write down your schedule of classes in more than one place so you always know where you are supposed to be.

Be Disciplined

Become disciplined about doing your assignment can reduce the stress and university syndrome. Attending classes when you have done your assignment is much less stressful then showing up without your assignment.Be disciplined about attending classes and studying daily. Cramming for exams creates unnecessary stress. Real learning and success is built on a foundation, step by step and class by class.

Practice Time Management Skills

Time management stress relief skills can help you achieve more and still have time for rest and play.

Be Systematic

Understand that your university success never depends on any single exam, teacher or class. You will naturally enjoy some classes more and do better in them. Simply do the best you can with each class and each challenge you face.

Learn How to Take Tests

Gather tips for test taking will help your improve your test taking skills and make your school days much easier. It will also build your self confidence and success.

Be Determined and Persistent

Even though stress and University may sometimes be a problem, don’t let setbacks stop you. Just stay committed and keep going. At times you may think that you’re a failure but just keep going anyway. You don’t really fail until you stop trying.

Breathe Deeply

Breathing for stress relief means breathing slowly and deeply several times a day. Do this especially any time you feel tense, angry or worried. This can help you stay calm and focused. It can help you avoid doing or saying things that may get you in trouble, or that you may later regret.

Be Kind

Be kind, polite and respectful to everyone you meet and deal with, including yourself. When you treat people with kindness and respect you will find yourself making friends more easily and having fewer problems in your relationships. Communicating to reduce stress with improved listening skills will help avoid misunderstandings and promote harmony.

Be Forgiving

The benefits of forgiveness are many. Be forgiving of yourself and others. As human beings we are fallible. We inevitably make mistakes. Apologize for your mistakes and move forward. Don’t hold grudges. They will only bring you down with bitterness. Recognize that we all do the best we can at the time.

Exercise Regularly

Be absolutely committed to using stress relief exercise almost every day! This is important for health and stress relief. Bodies are built to move and be active. It’s much easier to sit patiently in university behind a desk when you have a daily opportunity to run, move and play. It can be sports, or dancing, or weight lifting, or simple walking or jogging. I found that the more hours I spent sitting and studying, the more time I had to spend exercising in order to think clearly and stay healthy. Sport and physical activity helps you to relax physically and also releases endorphins in the body which produce a real feeling of well-being. Walk, cycle, swim, join a gym or a sports team. Joining a club or society, maintaining an existing hobby or learning something new, talking to other people can all help you to take a mental and physical break.

Eat Nutritious Food

Avoid eating junk. Eliminate refined sugar and caffeine from your diet. Sure the soda pop and candy bars are fun to eat. And they can give you an immediate energy boost. But it’s an artificial energy boost that does not support your long term health.

Request Help

Ask for help when you need it. Sometimes an explanation from a classmate, teacher or tutor can help you understand a difficult topic. Lend a similar helping hand to your classmates when they ask for it. Cooperation can help everyone do better. Talk about it, write about it, shout or moan about it. By expressing your feelings can help to relieve stress. Acknowledging a problem to yourself and to others can be the first step in dealing with it. Sometimes having a good cry or bashing a pillow can release emotional pressure and calm your feelings of anxiety.

Pray for Guidance

Remember, prayer for stress relief is always available, and can help with school stress, work stress, family stress, or whatever challenge you may be facing.

Past Researches

Past researches are very important for researcher to do research scientifically. Although college student is Past researches has been done for the related title of student stress in university and colleges.

Research conducted by Ida Hartina Ahmed Tharbe (2003) using the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (Holmes & Rahe, 1967) on 58 subjects identified several changes in lifestyle as the cause of stress for students. Among the changes are: the change in eating habit (66 percent), change in sleeping and living habit (64 percent respectively), change in social activities and change in financial status (50 percent respectively). Using the Teen Scene: Stress Test (Youngs, 1986) the same research found other stressors which include: not performing as well as expected (66 percent), putting too much hope on oneself (64 percent), not being as popular as one wanted (56 percent), fear of being let down by friends (56 percent) and peer pressure (50 percent). Therefore, it is relatively true to say that stress is not merely caused by a single event but rather by a combination of life events.

A study by Samsiah Jayos (2005) among 155 matriculation students found that 91 percent of the students regard not having enough time for revision as the main source of stress. Meanwhile, 65.2 percent argued that they do not have enough time to complete assignments. Academic workload is undoubtedly another source of stress for students. The same research reported that too many assignments and too many subjects to be taken have caused stress for 73.5 percent and 72.3 percent of the students respectively (Samsiah Jayos, 2005). Similarly, a research study on 94 students of an institute in South Alberta found that among the stressors for both female and male students is academic workload (Arthur & Hiebert, 1994).


In conclusion, various past researches showed that the stress appear because of several factor that may create effect to our body and health. The effects were severe if we did not control it because from the past researches, it shows a problem that can make our life miserable. The effects to us include physically, mentally and emotionally.

Various past study also make evident that the solution for stress management include think positively and take control of your stress and anxiety by learning effective techniques to combat it. Stress-management skills are best when we practice it correctly. Knowing how to “de-stress” and doing it when things are relatively calm can help us get through challenging circumstances that may arise.


This chapter is a vital part of the study that clarifies all features about how the survey will be carry out, beginning from the data collecting procedure to the analysis and understanding of d

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