Self-regulation and stress management in undergraduate students
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The aim of this study was to explore qualitative differences in the self-regulation of stress management between students experiencing high stress levels and those experiencing low stress levels. Undergraduate students of the Potchefstroom campus of the North West University completed the 14-item Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck & Mermelstein, 1983) to obtain the two comparative student groups (N=25). A semi-structured questionnaire based on the phases of self-regulation namely mindfulness; goal management; adjustment and self-reflection was then administered. Directed content analysis (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005) was applied with open, axial and selective coding. Although a number of similarities were found between the two groups, the general indication is that participants with lower stress are better self-regulators. They are slightly more mindful regarding perceived causes of stress, have more intrinsically motivated goals, have higher self-efficacy beliefs, more often use physical activity and external monitoring in executing their stress goals, judge themselves more positively, and reflect more positively on the self-regulation process. The importance of effective self-regulation in stress management has thus been confirmed for this group of participants. The study's unique contribution, however, lies in the fact that it generated qualitative insight into the perceptions and experiences of regulating stress in undergraduate students. Future research may include statistical analyses, more diverse populations, and larger sample sizes.
- Health Sciences