A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 4: Stress Management and Sleep 77 of stress they can help each other. This approach to stress is referred to as the tend-and-befriend response. According to Taylor et al. (2000), hormonal differences between males and females also contribute to variations in the response to stress. For example, oxytocin (a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland as part of the stress response), promotes nurturing and social contact and is enhanced by the hormone estrogen. The interaction between oxytocin and estrogen may contribute to the tend-and-befriend stress response in females while simultaneously inhibiting the fight-or-flight response. Conversely, the hormone testosterone inhibits the release of oxytocin. The inhibition of oxytocin by testosterone may in turn contribute to the fight-or-flight response, while simultaneously preventing the tend-and befriend response, in males (Taylor et al., 2000). The American Psychological Association (n.d.) has reported other differences between males and females with dealing with stress. For example, males tend to be more reluctant to believe that stress is having an impact on their health and thus place less emphasis on the need to manage their stress than females do. Additionally, males are less likely to see psychologists and make lifestyle and/or behavior changes. As a result, males tend to be at a slightly higher risk for emotional and physiological disorders associated with high stress levels and unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors. Stress and the College Student The college experience is a major source of stress for most students. Respondents to the American College Health Association survey (2018) reported various factors which negatively affected their academic performance. Some of the factors mentioned include stress, anxiety, depression, concern for a troubled friend, relationship problems, financial problems, and/or death of a family member. For many students, college is the first time living away from home and on their own. Interestingly, stress for college students seems to be most prevalent during the freshman and senior years. For freshmen, the stress comes from being in a totally new physical and social setting as well as new and more challenging academic expectations. For seniors, the stress comes from the anticipation of life beyond college to include work, marriage, and finances (Johnson & Morris, 2012). Ironically, the stress associated with college seems to be similar between Christian and secular schools. According to researchers, the top five stressors for all college students include (Fahey et al., 2011; Walter et al., 2006):