Students face various stresses and with the change of values and modern rearing practices shaped by new media, the nature of stressors has changed. Present study tries to identify and evaluate the life-style to stress and examine the impact of the same on well-being and examines the coping mechanisms used by the students. For the present study student sample (N=100) from of a reputed sectoral management institute located in Central India were selected. Correlation and regression analysis were used to reach to a conclusion for the study. Results revealed that a majority of respondents had a passive way of coping with stress. Increasing trend towards passive coping pattern seems to be a significant factor in this. The results indicated that Passive Emotional Coping was positively related with Academic Orientation, Social Orientation and Trend-Seeking life-style. However, Passive Emotional Coping was negatively related to Family Oriented lifestyle. Active problem solving was more distinct among Career Oriented and Family oriented and was found at very low levels among Trend-Seekers, Passive Problem Coping was also found to be negatively associated with Family Oriented lifestyle.
Keywords: Stress, Lifestyle, Well-being, Coping Practices, management students.
The present era is an epitome of stress. The seventeenth century has been called the “Age of Enlightenment” , the eighteenth, the “Age of Reason”, the nineteenth, the “Age of Progress” and the twentieth, the “Age of Anxiety and Stress” (Coleman,1976). Student community is also not aloof and fallen prey to this problem. The possible factors leading to this phenomenon among the students are increase in academic competition and lifestyle adopted to cope with the same. These lifestyles in particular lead to stress levels and also the coping practices adopted to manage the stress.
The present paper addresses the objective of identification and analysis of stress, well-being, lifestyle and coping strategies among the students. The paper can be divided into three sections. The first section talks about introduction of stress among students with the help of some relevant works in the field. Selection and adoption of methodology is dealt with in the second section. Data analysis and interpretation part of the paper is done in the third section.
Turkington (2005) in his book Stress Management for Busy People, drew attention over the increasing stress and suggested that in the next millennium it is very likely that the number one threat to health & well-being will not be cancer or heart disease but rather stress. In a relatively new discovery, parts of our that contribute to emotional and cognitive functioning, such as memory are likely to be permanently damaged if we are chronically stressed. For all of these reasons it is imperative that we make stress control a priority in our business lives. For, if our health and mental functioning deteriorates sufficiently under chronic and unrelenting stress, we won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of our labors or the rich and rewarding nature of our closest relationships.
In addition to this the study of Whitman, Spendlove & Clark (1984, 1986) in the related area concluded that how students respond to stressors determine how much is gained from the college experience. Maintaining a wellness lifestyle, including turning colleges into positive stress, can facilitate one’s academic learning and personal development. Kausar & Munir (2004) suggested individual stress coping comes from two main sources: emotional coping and problem management coping. Lazarus & Folkman (1984) studied and found that the individual continually appraises stressors through time, sees some as more threatening than others, copes in ways that seem appropriate at the moment, according to available personal and social resources, and moves along to the next stressors in the process. They also pointed out that when individuals face stressful situations that can be controlled by them they mostly respond with problem focused strategies. In contrast, when they face stressful events that they cannot control, they mostly respond with emotional focused strategies.
The present paper addresses the objective of stress, well-being, lifestyle and coping strategies among the students in a three step process. The First part deals with selection and adoption of method to conduct study. This section can be covered under following heads:
Sample: The students (N=100) of a sectoral management institute catering the need of environmental management sector were selected as a sample of the study. The students of I year and II year both were included in the study. Male and female both students were part of the study but as the number of females is smaller in comparison to male, gender could not be used as a factor of stress.
Informed consent: Prior to administering the questionnaire the subjects were informed about the purpose of the study. They were also told that the participation is completely voluntary and their responses would be kept confidential.
Instruments: After taking informed consent from the subjects a questionnaire was administered on them. In accordance with the requirements of the study, the questionnaire comprised of three instruments aimed at measuring well-being, lifestyle, coping practices and perceived stress. Foremost, PGI General wellbeing (Verma & Verma, 1989) was kept in the questionnaire to assess the well-being of an individual. It includes 20 items for the purpose. Next to this, Life Style Scale designed by Bawa & Kaur, 2010 was included in the questionnaire to measure the six different dimensions of lifestyle: health conscious lifestyle, academic oriented lifestyle, career oriented lifestyle, family oriented lifestyle and socially oriented lifestyle. All items represent statements to which the subjects respond on five point Likert type scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. In addition to the above, Perceived stress scale (Cohen et al., 1983) was used to measure the perception of stress amongst the targets of study. Included in this instrument are items pertaining to the degree to which respondents find their lives stressful. Respondents were supposed to rate their responses on five point scale.
Scoring: After collecting the data, the completely filled questionnaire was selected out of all. Out of the 120 respondents who were given the questionnaire, completely filled in questionnaire were procured from 100(83.33%) students. Scoring was done on the basis of the scoring patterns mentioned in the manuals of the respective instruments.
The data was collected in fixed environmental setting, in the classrooms to avoid any environmental impacts over the responses.
After scoring the data was put to analysis. Foremost, the prevailing lifestyles, stress level, coping patterns and well-being level were analyzed. These can be describes as:
Lifestyle: The average adoption level of lifestyles is presented in the figure 1.
Figure 1: Lifestyles among students
Family oriented lifestyle is found to be higher among the students with the average score of 40.44. This is due to the prevalent cultural values in India. Next in the order are health centred (33.44), trend seeking (31.97), career oriented (31.65), social oriented lifestyle (29.28) and academic oriented (28.70). Students are found to be adopting these lifestyles are almost on equal level.
Coping Practices: The active and passive problem coping practices are found to be on average ranking 20.46 and 21.37 respectively. However active emotional coping is most adopted and passive emotional coping is least adopted.
Perceived stress level: The average stress score of 6.94 suggests lower stress prevalent among the selected students.
Well-being: Better well-being status among the students is supported by the average score of 9.4 on well-being instrument.
Interdependence among the variables: With an objective of studying and analysing the impact of variables over each other, the variables are studied in reference to other related variables.
Impact of age: Age is found to be positively associated with lifestyle practices. Health conscious lifestyle is found to be increasing with the age while trend seeking lifestyle declines. Increase in health consciousness with age results out of desire to be perceived by the peer group as physical attractive. However the decline in trend following approach suggests that confidence level increases with the increase in age which leads to higher preference in setting trends than following them.
Impact of educational background: As the course is residential one and the selected sample is undergoing same course no impact of educational background is seen over them.
Lifestyle and coping practices: A regression analysis was conducted using lifestyles as predictors and coping practices as criterion in order to determine the relative significance of lifestyles in predicting coping patterns.
Students more inclined towards career, family and trends are found to be higher in meeting and managing the problems in an active manner. Higher confidence level acquired out of familial support lets students handle their problems on active front, so are found to be higher in active emotional as well as problem coping. They tend to manage their problems instead of avoiding them. Trend seekers in the wake of their tendency of following others gather less confidence to meet the challenges and recourse to avoiding the problem. The results of the regression analysis have been shown through table 1.
Table 1: Regression table between lifestyles and coping styles
Regression analysis of coping patterns and lifestyle suggest 34.1% variance in active problem coping due to the lifestyles of student community. Other coping patterns are found to causing very low variance in the coping styles. Academic oriented lifestyle is found to be positively correlated with social and career oriented lifestyle. Thus, regression analysis conducted after removing academics driven lifestyle increased problem coping predictability and negatively affected the emotional coping styles.
Lifestyle, well-being and perceived stress level: Lifestyle impacts the well-being and stress level as perceived by the students. To assess this impact correlation was studied among the factors. The resulting correlation has been depicted in the table 2.
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
Table 2: Correlation among lifestyle, perceived stress and well-being
Career orientation acts as a stress buster among the students. This statement is supported by the negative correlation (-0.203) between stress and career-oriented lifestyle.
Academic oriented lifestyle (0.216) and socially oriented lifestyle (0.310) are individually found to be significant for well-being. The students with social oriented lifestyle and academic orientation were showed better well-being status in comparison than others. Social orientation helps like a stress-buster and academic orientation provides a self-fulfillment resulting in higher self-esteem. Well-being status of students of academic and career orientation is found to be good as it not only provides a better stature at present but also provides a platform of promising future. First of all, the academic oriented students are good performer thus appreciated by both the students and teachers. This leads to better well-being status. While social oriented are better because they manage their relations well. The two major stressors among the student communities are to ‘study pressure’ and ‘peer pressure’. If these two are well managed, this results in better well-being status and better performance of the students.
Various research works have been done in the area of stress among students. The researchers have dealt with this issue in varied ways and came with completely contrasting results. As Bogal and associates (1985), Lakey & Heller (1989) have worked in this area and suggested that parents are the most important source of generalized social support among college students and this perceived social-support can make a difference in problem solving. However, Fraser & Trucker (1997) proposed contrary view to this and said that the greater the individuation from parents, the better the problem solving abilities and less the stress among college students.
The obtained results of the present study are in conformity with the study of Bogal & associates (1985), Lakey & Heller (1989). It predicts students of family oriented and social oriented lifestyle to be better in active coping patterns while students lowering on these tend to adopt passive coping practices.
Conclusion: This paper has attempted to identify the prevalent lifestyles adopted by students in context of professional students of a sectoral management institute. The issues like impact of these lifestyles on prevailing stress and well-being status of students and coping patterns to manage the stress have also been directed.
Due to the constraint of sample size the study lacks generalizability thus requires inclusion of wide encompassing sample. But, in terms to providing insight to the inter-relationship among the targeted variables is a significant one.