The study investigated perceived emotional intelligence and stress management among 350 undergraduate university students in Delta State University, Delta State, Nigeria. The participants responded to three valid scales. The Pearson correlation was used to investigate the relationship between the variables and t-test of significance was used to determine the difference in stress management among high and low emotional intelligent students. It was found that perceived emotional intelligence and stress management were related and high emotional intelligent students were better in stress management. Based on this, it was recommended that the inclusion of emotional intelligence training in the school curricula could be considered as important to enable students improve their awareness and assertively express themselves particularly in the management of stress.
Keywords: Stress Management, Emotional Intelligence.
The phenomenon of stress is not a new one. Stress is a part of life. It is simply a fact of nature. The concept has been explained, defined, characterized and conceptualized from a biological, psychological, biochemical, physiological and medical perspectives. Akinboye (2002) describes it as a force which affects human beings physically, mentally, emotionally socially and spiritually. The author further adds that it is a composite and a multidimensional condition impacting with profound consequences on living organisms. A notable fact is that stress is unique to an individual. Based on this, stress could be described as a resultant of interplay of forces affecting an individual from within and around.
Stress comes in various forms of degree of duration depending on the stressor. Stressors are forerunners of stress. They do not cause stress but have the tendency to induce stress (example, noise, music, crowd, work). Stress varies from acute (short lived stress condition such as waiting for an interview, preparing for exams, travelling on a plane) to chronic (long lasting stress condition such as losing a loved one, parental discord or divorce, permanent disability and so on. Symptoms of stress include mental tensions, strains, agony, hardship, apprehension, impatience, headache, gastrointestinal disturbances, fatigue, anxiety, changes in eating and sleeping habits, weakness among many others. It is also known that people under stress have greater tendency to engage in unhealthy behaviours such as excessive abuse of drugs and alcohol, cigarette smoking and poor nutritional choices.
Students are subjected to different kinds of stressors, such as the pressure of academics with an obligation to succeed (Hirsch & Ellis, 1996), excessive homework, unclear assignments and uncomfortable classrooms (Kohn & Frazer, 1986), relations with faculty members and time pressure (Sgan-Cohen & lowental, 1988), eating and sleeping habits as well as loneliness, relationship with friends and an uncertain future and difficulties of integrating into the system. The students also face social, emotional, physical and family problems which may affect their learning ability and academic performance (Fish & Nies, 1996: Chew-Graham, Rogers & Yassin, 2003). Too much stress can cause physical and mental health problems, reduce students' selfesteem and may affect students academic achievement ( Niemi & Vainiomaki FT, 1999; Silver & Glicken, 1990). A particular study by Towebs and Cohen, (1996) revealed that first year undergraduate students scored higher in stress scores than other students. Similar studies have also explored sources of stress among undergraduate students (Gadzella, 1994: Singh, 1994).
Fortunately, effective stress management strategies can diminish the ill effects of stress. Management strategies such as meditation, exercising, dieting, relaxation, humor and even prescribed drugs has been demonstrated to have an edge over stress. In recent times an identified concept that embodies most proffered stress management strategies, requiring the use of peopled skills to enable intact and strong social network among friends, families, affiliations and related others that help reduce the subjective experience of stress has been described as emotional intelligence. …