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European Journal of Scientific Research

ISSN 1450-216X Vol.79 No.4 (2012), pp.592-606


EuroJournals Publishing, Inc. 2012
http://www.europeanjournalofscientificresearch.com

The Causes of Stress and Strategies for Managing Stress: A


Case Study of Thai University Staff and Lecturers
Sukhumpong Channuwong
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Mahidol University
Salaya, Nakhonpathom 73170, Thailand
E-mail: sukhumpong@hotmail.com
Wutthinant Kantatian
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Mahidol University
Salaya, Nakhonpathom 73170, Thailand
E-mail: shwkn@mahidol.ac.th
Abstract
This research aimed at finding the causes of stress, effects of stress, and strategies
for managing stress; a difference in the causes and effects of stress among participants; and
a relationship between the causes and effects of stress. The research questionnaire was used
to ask 360 university staff and lecturers. The research findings showed that participants
perceive time management, finance, and workload to be the main causes of stress.
Headache, physical burnout, and loss of concentration were the main effects of stress.
Concerning strategies for managing stress, participants try to complete the urgent and
important jobs before the due date in order to reduce work overload; make a list of income
and expense in order to reduce financial problem; work part-time in order to increase
income; work continuously and constantly in order to reduce workload; accept the reality
that not everyone can achieve everything he or she hopes or wishes; and create a positive
thinking that each problem has its own solution. The results of hypotheses testing showed
that age group, marital status, work experience, and financial status were factors
influencing the causes of stress. There was a positive relationship between the causes and
effects of stress.

Keywords: The Causes of Stress, Stress Management, Time Management, Workload,


Finance, Family Relationship, Physical and Mental Health

1. Introduction
In the current situation of the world, human beings are impressed and satisfied with the innovation of
new technologies. Some are impressed with the convenience in transportation, and communication.
Some are impressed with satisfactory facilities like luxurious houses, car, telephone, computers, and
many other electronic devices. It is obvious that technological growth and development can provide
human beings with physical facilitations, but is not a main factor that can improve and create inner
happiness into human life. Human beings are still cluttered by many mental sufferings caused from
greed, anger, revenge, pressure, stress, worry and anxiety. Thus, it can be concluded that technological
sophistication is not the main factor that can improve the ability of people to live satisfying, self-

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sufficient, healthy, peaceful, and happy lives. People still need to seek for more happiness and peace of
their inner world.
People working in the academic field may face almost the same problems as company workers,
which lead to create stress anytime. A number of universities in Thailand have increased tremendously
in the past few years. Due to the increasing number of universities in Thailand, and most of them are
becoming autonomous universities, university academic staff may face more problems in their jobs as
the managements are facing competitive pressure from other universities. Most of universities are now
setting new goals to compete with other universities in terms of academic reputation, student
satisfaction, a number of students, and quality control in accordance with Ministry of Education of
Thailand. Thus, most of university staff and lecturers are forced to be involved with these ultimate
goals. This may cause university staff and lecturers to face plenty of stress, which can affect their
physical and mental health anytime. The common worry of the university lecturers and staff is the
consequence of their work. Since this is a daily situation, it is one of the most relevant causes of stress
in their lives.
Stress is a pressure, worry and anxiety caused by an accumulation of problems in human life.
The factors causing stress are innumerable since each person may react differently in the same stress
conditions. Extreme stress situations for one individual may prove to be mild and simple for another,
and may not qualify as stress symptoms for some people. Many researches revealed that stress can be
real and perceived. However, human brain reacts the same way to both causes of stress by releasing
stress hormones, which is equal to the degree of stress felt. The brain does not differentiate between the
real and imagined stress. Sometimes, stress is created by what we think, and the way we react to the
situation rather than by what has actually happened. Therefore, human beings need to learn how to deal
with imagined and real stress because both of them can create mental and physical problems in the
same level (Channuwong & Kantatian, 2012). Davis, Eshelman and McKay (2005) mentioned that one
of the areas that most people can benefit from learning is how to handle and manage stress. Leaders
and employees can gain benefits by learning how to manage their time and deal with stress. This useful
tool could not only benefit the leaders and employees, but the company could also benefit from it since
there will be less sick days, more productive working days, happier moods, and other side benefits.
Stress is a silent killer; it deteriorates and destroys the morale, good feeling, intention,
willingness and inspiration of employees to work in the company. Therefore, it is necessary for
university staff and lecturers to understand stress, its causes, its effects, and strategies to deal with
stress so that they can prevent and reduce it, and work effectively for the prosperity and stabilization of
educational institutions.

2. Previous Research
Dunham (1992) defined stress as a process of behavioral, emotional, mental, and physical reactions
caused by prolonged, increasing or new pressures that are significantly greater than the availability of
coping strategies. The situations and pressures causing stress are called stressors. Usually people
think that stressors are negative, such as an argument and conflict, an exhausting work schedule or a
rocky relationship. Smith, Jaffe-Gill and Segal (2010) mentioned that anything that puts high demands
on you or forces you to adjust could be stressful. This includes positive events such as buying a house,
going to college, getting married, or receiving a promotion. What causes stress is very much dependent
on how one perceives it. Something that one feels stressful may not faze someone else; they may event
enjoy it. For example, ones morning commute may make him or her anxious and tense because he or
she may worry that traffic will make him or her late. However, others may find the relaxing on trip
because they allow more than enough time and enjoy listening to music while they drive.
Kolbasuk (2000) described that the impact of stress is measurable. From an individual
perspective, scientists can measure the direct effects of stress on the cardiovascular system, the

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immune system, the endocrine system, the muscular system, and the gastrointestinal system. Stress can
lead to serious forms of health issues, such as cancer, diabetes or thyroid dysfunction. From an
organizational perspective, the effects of stress can be measured against an organizations profitability.
The American Institute of Stress says that stress costs U.S. businesses $300 billion annually in lost
productivity, absenteeism, accidents, employee turnover, and medical, legal, insurance fees and
workers compensation awards.
Stress may also lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, backaches, dizziness,
chest pain, heart palpitations, and intestinal problems. Again, individual differences play a role in the
effects of stress. For example, stress alters the heart rhythms and poses a risk for serious arrhythmias in
people with heart rhythm disturbances. In addition, in women, chronic stress may reduce estrogen
levels, which are important for cardiac health (Hayman, 2003). Peterson (2003) pointed out that stress
is not something we can eliminate but is something we can learn to deal with and prevent. Stress can
attack the hearing, hair, brain, digestive track, muscles, skin, and lungs.
Marika, Ulla, and Johanna (2011) have examined the moderator role of coping (problem-,
emotion-, and avoidance-focused coping strategies) between work-to-family and family-to-work
conflict and well-being (work engagement, job satisfaction, and family satisfaction). The study was
based on sample of 527 Finnish workers. The research findings showed that emotion-focused coping
buffered against job dissatisfaction in a high family-to-work conflict situation. On the other hand, the
emotion-focused coping was harmful for family satisfaction in the same stressful situation: Those who
used more emotion-focused coping were less satisfied with their family life under the conditions of
high family-to-work conflict. Furthermore, avoidance coping was beneficial in a high family-to-work
conflict situation: Those who used more avoidance coping were more satisfied with their family life in
this situation. No buffering effects were found for work engagement or for problem-focused coping.
For general teachers, stress may be related to work satisfaction. Beehr (2003) examined
teachers work satisfaction and reports of job-related stress in some English elementary schools; he
found that teachers general satisfaction and stress at work were related mostly to their reported
feelings about what happened within class such as relations with pupils, the process of teaching, and
pupil behavior in school, rather than to administrative or policy questions such as degree of work
autonomy, and relations with principals. Kyriacou and Sutcliffe (1978) reported four sources of stress,
which were common among teachers in British comprehensive schools: pupil misbehavior, poor
working conditions, and time pressure. Carpel (1992) examined the causes of stress and burnout in 405
middle and upper high school in one Local Education Authority in England, and found that role
conflict, locus, stability of personality, and anxiety are the potential sources of stress and burnout.
In a study done in New Zealand, Dewe (1986) identified the following work stressors: Task
overload, lack of control over activities and outcomes, lack of job satisfaction, role conflicts, rapid or
unpredictable changes, interpersonal conflicts, unrealistic expectations, and feelings of inadequacy.
Payne and Furnham (1987) examined the causes of stress of 444 secondary teachers in Barbados and
found that difficulties associated with instructional and managerial demands were perceived to be the
stressful aspects of their work.
In brief, the common sources of stress for teachers and lecturers in Western Countries are
misbehavior of students, poor working condition, lack of resources for teachers, poor relationships with
colleagues, overload with teaching and nonteaching duties, and poor administrative support. Dunham
(1984) summarized the most frequent manifestations of lecturer stress as: feeling of exhaustion,
irritability, tension, and headache. Dunham (1992) further identified four kinds of stress effects: (a)
behavioral (e.g. heavy smoking, absenteeism, and turnover; (b) emotional (e.g. nervousness, anxiety,
and depression); (c) mental (e.g. inability to concentrate); and (d) physical (e.g. headache and gastrointestinal problems).
The rapid and constant change in the global scene is increasing the pressure to the workforce to
perform maximum output and enhance competitiveness. In order to maintain high productivity and stay
ahead of other organizations, workers are required to perform multiple tasks in the workplace (Quick,

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1999). The ultimate results of the pressure were found to be one of the most important factors
influencing job stress. Townley (2000) has studied employees in United Kingdom and found that the
majority of workers were not happy with the current organizational culture in which they were required
to work extended hours without overtime payment, and cope with large workloads while
simultaneously meeting production targets and deadlines.
Several studies revealed that work overloads and time constraints are the factors causing stress.
Wilkes et al. (1998) found that work overloads and time constraints were significant contributors to
work stress among community nurses. Work stress can be defined as reluctance to come to work and a
feeling of constant pressure accompanied by the general physiological, psychological, and behavioral
stress symptoms. Al-Aameri (2003) described in his study that one of the six factors of occupational
stress is pressure originating from workload. Al-Aameri also found that low levels of job satisfaction
are associated with high levels of work stress, and work stress leads to job dissatisfaction. Job stress is
an indicator of job dissatisfaction and inclination to leave the organization. Ahsan, Abdullah, Fie, and
Alam (2009) examined the relationship between job stress and job satisfaction of Public University in
Malaysia. The determinants of job stress that have been examined in this study included management
role, relationship with others, workload pressure, home interface, role ambiguity, and performance
pressure. The results of the study showed that there is a significant relationship between four of the
constructs tested. The results also showed that there is significant negative relationship between job
stress and job satisfaction. Vinokur-Kaplan (1991) found that the organizational factors such as
workload and working conditions were negatively related to job satisfaction.

3. Research Hypotheses
Ha1: There is a statistically significant difference, at the 0.05 level of significance, in the causes of
stress among Mahidol University staff and lecturers who have different demographic profile.
Ha2: There is a statistically significant difference, at the 0.05 level of significance, in the effects
of stress among Mahidol University staff and lecturers who have different demographic profile.
Ha3: There is a statistically significant relationship, at the 0.05 level of significance, between
the causes of stress and the effects of stress of Mahidol University staff and lecturers.

4. Research Methodology
The survey questionnaire was used as a data collection instrument. The research questions were created
based on the literature reviews, which were derived from previous researches, textbooks, journals, and
articles, and current recommendations of research specialists. The population and sample to be studied
were staff and lecturers of Mahidol University, Thailand. The questionnaire was used to ask 360
participants about their demographic profile, the causes of stress, effects of stress, and strategies for
managing stress. The sample was convenient sampling. Data were collected during July to October
2011, using a 7-page questionnaire distributed to each participant at his or her workplace within
Mahidol University. Of the samples targeted, 99% returned and completed the questionnaire, yielding
358 participants. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used in this research. Descriptive
statistics includes percentage, mean and standard deviation. Inferential statistics includes t-test,
Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and Pearson Correlation.

5. The Research Findings


5.1. Demographic Profile of Participants
The results derived from analysis of personal information of participants showed that 69.2% of
participants were female; and 30.7% were male. As for age, 36.0% of participants were aged between

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31-40 years old; 34.0% were aged between 20-30 years old; 18.9% were aged between 41-50 years
old; and 10.8% were aged over 50 years old. As for marital status, 56.4% of participants were single;
40.5% were married; and only 3.0% were divorced. As for educational level, 50% of participants
received bachelors degree; 31.8% received masters degree; 10.8% received doctoral degree; and
7.2% received certificates lower than bachelors degree. As for work experience, 42.4% of participants
had 1-5 years of work experience; 30.7% had 6-15 years of work experience; 17.5% had 16-25 years of
work experience; and 9.2% had more than 25 years of work experience. As for financial status, 54.4%
of participants had income between 10,001-20,000 Baht; 18.1% had income between 20,001-30,000
Baht; 12.2% had income more than 40,000 Baht; 9.2% had income between 30,001-40,000 Baht; and
5.8% had income equal to or less than 10,000 Baht.
5.2. The Causes of Stress
The researcher has analyzed the mean and standard deviation of the causes of stress of participants in
terms of time management, finance, workplace, co-worker relationship, work characteristic, family
relationship, physical health and mental health. The research findings showed that, in total, the causes
of stress were at low level with mean score of 2.30 (S.D. = 0.60). As for each aspect, the causes of
stress can be ranked in order from higher to lower as follows: time management was perceived to be
the medium cause of stress with mean score of 2.81 (S.D. = 0.94). Finance was perceived to be the
medium cause of stress with mean score of 2.75 (S.D. = 1.16). Work characteristic was perceived to be
the medium cause of stress with mean score of 2.70 (S.D. = 0.92). Co-worker relationship, mental
health, workplace, and physical health were perceived to be the low causes of stress with mean score of
2.35 (S.D. = 0.97), 2.11 (S.D. = 0.90), 2.02 (S.D. = 0.83), and 1.93 (S.D. = 0.74) respectively; whereas
family relationship was not perceived to be the cause of stress with mean score of 1.79 (S.D. = 1.03).
Concerning the causes of stress of participants for each aspect in details, the research findings
showed that, with regard to time management, participants had high cause of stress due to worry about
completing the jobs before the due dates with mean score of 3.34 (S.D. =1.11). Participants had low
cause of stress due to worry about reaching the workplace on time with mean score of 2.55 (S.D. =
1.22); and worry about balancing time between family and job with mean score of 2.44 (S.D. = 1.19).
With regard to finance, participants had medium cause of stress due to worry about family expense
with mean score of 2.86 (S.D. = 1.31); individual expense with mean score of 2.78 (S.D. = 1.30);
compensation and welfare with mean score of 2.70 (S.D. = 1.28); and having debt with mean score of
2.68 (S.D. = 1.41). With regard to workplace, participants had low cause of stress due to worry about
privatization in the workplace with mean score of 2.09 (S.D. = 1.03); stability and security in the
workplace with mean score of 2.02 (S.D. = 1.00); and accommodation for rest and relaxation in the
workplace with mean score of 2.02 (S.D. = 1.05). Participants also had low cause of stress due to
worry about convenience and facilities in the workplace with mean score of 1.97 (S.D. = 0.90). With
regard to co-worker relationship, participants had low cause of stress due to problems related to
cooperation of co-workers at work with mean score of 2.44 (S.D. = 1.12); unity and harmony of coworkers with mean score of 2.36 (S.D.= 1.08); conflict with co-workers and team work with mean
score of 2.36 (S.D. = 1.11). Participants also had low cause of stress due to worry about work culture
of co-workers with mean score of 2.26 (S.D. = 1.04). With regard to work characteristic, participants
had medium cause of stress due to worry about workload with mean score of 2.79 (S.D. = 1.08);
progress and job security with mean score of 2.72 (S.D. = 1.18); plan and policy in work performance
with mean score of 2.68 (S.D. = 1.04). Participants also had medium cause of stress due to job
characteristic which is boring with mean score of 2.62 (S.D. = 1.18).
With regard to family relationship, participants had low cause of stress due to losing their loved
one with mean score of 1.98 (S.D. = 1.36). Whereas, having conflict and not getting along with family
members, and having problems occurring from divorce and separation were not perceived to be the
causes of stress with mean score of 1.79 (S.D. = 1.05), and 1.62 (S.D. = 1.11) respectively. With regard
to physical health, participants had low cause of stress due to hard-working and using too much

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physical energy with mean score of 2.36 (S.D. = 1.16); and worry about personal and chronic disease
with mean score of 2.08 (S.D. = 1.08). Whereas, having physical weakness causing from accident, and
personal appearance and personality were not perceived to be the causes of stress with mean score of
1.76 (S.D. = 0.94), and 1.52 (S.D. = 0.90) respectively. With regard to mental health, participants had
low cause of stress due to disappointment at not getting what they hope and wish with mean score of
2.41 (S.D. = 1.17); worry about the future which has not happened yet with mean score of 2.25 (S.D. =
1.06). Participants also had low cause of stress due to worry about the past and cannot transcend that
emotion with mean score of 2.04 (S.D. = 1.07). Whereas, having negative feeling and feeling of
inferior to others were not perceived to be the causes of stress.
5.3. The Effects of Stress
The researcher has analyzed the effects of stress of participants in terms of physical effect, mental
effect, and behavioral effect. The research findings showed that, in total, the effects of stress were at
low level with mean score of 2.20 (S.D. = 0.80). As for each aspect, the effects of stress were at low
level which can be ranked in order from higher to lower as follows: Physical effect had mean score of
2.26 (S.D. = 0.89); mental effect had mean score of 2.21 (S.D. = 0.90); and behavioral effect had mean
score of 2.08 (S.D. = 0.87).
Concerning the effects of stress of participants for each aspect in details, the research findings
showed that, with regard to physical effect, participants had medium effect due to physical burnout
with mean score of 2.82 (S.D. = 1.18); and headache with mean score of 2.62 (S.D. = 1.15).
Participants had low effect due to illness or fever with mean score of 2.26 (S. D. = 1.12); heartbeat
with mean score of 2.01 (S.D. = 1.14); muscle tension with mean score of 1.99 (S.D. = 1.16); and high
blood pressure with mean score of 1.87 (S.D. = 1.13).
With regard to mental effect, participants had medium effect due to loss of concentration with
mean score of 2.64 (S.D. = 1.17). Participants had low effect due to spiritual burnout and frustration
with mean score of 2.60 (S.D. = 1.27); being quick to anger and negative attitude with mean score of
2.58 (S.D. = 1.18); confusion and frustration with mean score of 2.44 (S.D. =1.18); and insomnia and
nightmare with mean score of 2.29 (S.D. = 1.18). However, participants had no mental effect of stress
due to self-destructive feeling, and destructive feeling towards others with mean score of 1.44 (S.D. =
1.00), and 1.54 (S.D. = 1.09) respectively.
With regard to behavioral effect, participants had low effect due to isolation of themselves from
the others with mean score 2.36 (S.D. = 1.33); job burnout and job boring with mean score of 2.31
(S.D. = 1.20); and low job performance with mean score of 2.21 (S.D. = 1.12). However, participants
had no behavioral effect due to job absenteeism with mean score of 1.45 (S.D. = 0.81).
Table 1:

The Overall Mean ( X ) and Standard Deviation (S.D.) of the Causes of Stress and Effects of Stress

Factors
Causes of Stress
1.
Time management
2.
Finance
3.
Workplace
4.
Co-worker relationship
5.
Work characteristic
6.
Family relationship
7.
Physical health
8.
Mental health
Total

S.D.

2.81
2.75
2.02
2.35
2.70
1.79
1.93
2.11
2.30

0.94
1.16
0.83
0.97
0.92
1.03
0.74
0.90
0.60

Level
Medium
Medium
Low
Low
Medium
Not the cause
Low
Low
Low

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Table 1:

Sukhumpong Channuwong and Wutthinant Kantatian


The Overall Mean ( X ) and Standard Deviation (S.D.) of the Causes of Stress and Effects of Stress
- continued

The Effects of Stress in Total


9.
Physical Effect
10.
Mental Effect
11.
Behavioral Effect
Total

2.26
2.21
2.08
2.20

0.89
0.90
0.87
0.80

Low
Low
Low
Low

5.4. Strategies for Managing Stress

The researcher has analyzed the strategies for managing stress of participants in terms of time
management, finance, workplace, co-worker relationship, work characteristic, family relationship,
physical health, and mental health.
With regard to strategies for managing stress related to time management, the research findings
showed that 77.7% of participants try to complete the urgent and important jobs before the due date in
order to reduce work overload; 57.1% try to balance time between family and job; and 37.3% try to
take notes of works and responsibilities on daily memo or time schedule in order to manage time
effectively.
With regard to strategies for managing stress related to finance, 42.1% of participants make a
list of income and expense in order to reduce financial problem; 42.1% work part-time or over time
(OT) in order to increase income and reduce financial problem; 26.7% try to accept the debt problem
by thinking that everyone may face the same problem; and 18.4% try to find other loaning sources in
order to support their expense respectively.
With regard to strategies for managing stress related to workplace, 53.2% of participants keep
watching their workplace to be safe and secure place for working; 40.4% arrange tables with flowers
and other decorations for relaxation and reducing work stress; and 18.1% perform some activities or
projects for stress management.
With regard to strategies for managing stress related to co-worker relationship, 61.8% of
participants try to compromise and accept different perspectives in order to accomplish the tasks if
there is any conflict at work; 60.4% realize the disadvantages of expressing aggressive emotion and
abusive behavior, thus, they do not express such emotion and behavior with their co-workers; 36.2%
try to change work culture, which is more initiative, creative and cooperative.
With regard to strategies for managing stress related to work characteristic, 66.0% of
participants work continuously and constantly in order to reduce work overload; 57.8% ask for advices
from knowledgeable person when they are doubtful about university plan and policy; 43.2% try to
adjust and change method of working with more creative thinking and development in order to reduce
routine job boring.
With regard to strategies for managing stress related to family relationship, 66.6% of
participants use patience and calmness without aggressive emotion and all kinds of abusive behavior
towards their family members; 61.6% try to accept the different perspectives among their family
members; and 21.2% choose to separate temporarily in order to reduce serious conflict.
With regard to strategies for managing stress related to physical health, 66.3% of participants
use entertainment like listening to music and watching concert for reducing stress; 52.6% stop working
temporarily, free themselves from all kinds of tasks, and travel somewhere for relaxation; 42.3% drink
fruit juice and eat nutritious food for reducing stress; and 22.8% take care of their health by daily
exercise to be free from stress.
With regard to strategies for managing stress related to mental health, 77.2% of participants try
to accept the reality and bear in mind that not everyone can achieve everything he or she hopes and
wishes for; 53.8% try to create positive feeling by thinking that each problem has its own solution;
47.6% try to change their perspectives to be more creative, avoiding from all kinds of mental

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disturbances; 36.5% use religious teachings to purify the minds, make it calm by prayer, and
meditation like breathing meditation by focusing on exhale and inhale etc.; and 34.3% try to regain
consciousness and awareness by knowing at present moment without worrying about the past and the
future.
5.5. Hypotheses Testing
5.5.1. The Difference in the Causes of Stress of Participants Classified by Demographic Profile
The researcher has analyzed a difference in the causes of stress among male and female by using t-test.
The research results accepted the null hypothesis with t-Distribution = 1.502, and sig. (2-tailed) =
0.134, which is greater than the critical value of 0.05 level of significance. Thus, it can be interpreted
that participants differing in gender had no significant different causes of stress (see table 2).
Table 2:

The Difference in the Causes of Stress of Participants Classified by Gender

Gender
Male
Female
t =1.502, sig.(2-tailed) =.134

S.D.

t-test

110
248

2.37
2.26

0.56
0.61

1.502

The researcher has analyzed the variance of the causes of stress among each group of
participants classified by age group by using F-test. The research results rejected the null hypothesis
with F-Distribution = 11.496, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.00, which is less than the critical value of 0.05
level of significance. Thus, it can be interpreted that participants differing in age group had significant
different causes of stress (see table 3).
Table 3:

The Difference in the Causes of Stress of Participants Classified by Age Group

Source of Variance
df
Between group
3
Within group
355
Total
358
** F= 11.496, sig.(2-tailed) = .000

SS
11.596
104.898
116.493

MS
3.865
.336

F
11.496**

The researcher has analyzed a difference in the causes of stress among single and married
participants by using t-test. The research results rejected the null hypothesis with t- Distribution =
2.441, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.015, which is less than the critical value of 0.05 level of significance.
Thus, it can be interpreted that participants differing in marital status had significant different causes of
stress (see table 4).
Table 4:

The Difference in the Causes of Stress of Participants Classified by Marital Status

Marital Status
Single
Married
* t =2.441, sig.(2-tailed) =.015

N
184
122

X
2.37
2.19

S.D.
0.61
0.58

t-test
2.441*

The researcher has analyzed the variance of the causes of stress among each group of
participants classified by educational level by using F-test. The research results accepted the null
hypothesis with F-Distribution = 1.168, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.322, which is greater than the critical

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Sukhumpong Channuwong and Wutthinant Kantatian

value of 0.05 level of significance. Thus, it can be interpreted that participants differing in educational
level had no significant different causes of stress (see table 5).
Table 5:

The Difference in the Causes of Stress of Participants Classified by Educational Level

Analysis of Variance
Between group
Within group
Total
F= 1.168, sig.(2-tailed) = .322

df
3
355
358

SS
1.276
112.198
113.474

MS
.425
.364

F
1.168

The researcher has analyzed the variance of the causes of stress among each group of
participants classified by work experience by using F-test. The research results rejected the null
hypothesis with F-Distribution = 6.278, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.000, which is less than the critical value
of 0.05 level of significance. Thus, it can be interpreted that participants differing in work experience
had significant different causes of stress (see table 6).
Table 6:

The Difference in the Causes of Stress of Participants Classified by Work Experience

Source of Variance
Between Group
Within Group
Total
**F= 6.278, sig.(2-tailed) = .000

df
3
355
358

SS
6.655
110.597
117.252

MS
2.218
.353

F
6.278**

The researcher has analyzed the variance of the causes of stress among each group of
participants classified by financial status by using F-test. The research results rejected the null
hypothesis with F-Distribution = 4.990, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.001, which is less than the critical value
of 0.05 level of significance. Thus, it can be interpreted that participants differing in financial status
had significant different causes of stress (see table 7).
Table 7:

The Difference in the Causes of Stress of Participants Classified by Financial Status

Source of Variance
Between Group
Within Group
Total
**F= 4.990, sig.(2-tailed) = .001

df
4
354
358

SS
6.970
108.255
115.225

MS
1.743
.349

F
4.990**

5.5.2. The Difference in the Effects of Stress of Participants Classified by Demographic Profile
The researcher has analyzed a difference in the effects of stress among male and female participants by
using t-test. The research results accepted the null hypothesis with t-Distribution = 0.020, and sig.(2tailed) = 0.984, which is greater than the critical value of 0.05 level of significance. Thus, it can be
interpreted that participants differing in gender had no significant different effects of stress.
The researcher has analyzed the variance of the effects of stress among each group of
participants classified by age group by using F-test. The research results rejected the null hypothesis
with F-Distribution = 7.656, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.00, which is less than the critical value of 0.05 level
of significance. Thus, it can be interpreted that participants differing in age group had significant
different effects of stress.
The researcher has analyzed a difference in the effects of stress among single and married
participants by using t-test. The research results accepted the null hypothesis with t-Distribution =
0.565, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.572, which is greater than the critical value of 0.05 level of significance.

The Causes of Stress and Strategies for Managing Stress: A Case Study
of Thai University Staff and Lecturers

601

Thus, it can be interpreted that participants differing in marital status had no significant different
effects of stress.
The researcher has analyzed the variance of the effects of stress among each group of
participants classified by educational level by using F-test. The research results accepted the null
hypothesis with F-Distribution = 1.848, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.138, which is greater than the critical
value of 0.05 level of significance. Thus, it can be interpreted that participants differing in educational
level had no significant different effects of stress.
The researcher has analyzed the variance of the effects of stress among each group of
participants classified by work experience by using F-test. The research results rejected the null
hypothesis with F-Distribution = 5.679, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.001, which is less than the critical value
of 0.05 level of significance. Thus, it can be interpreted that participants differing in work experience
had significant different effects of stress.
The researcher has analyzed the variance of the effects of stress among each group of
participants classified by financial status by using F-test. The research results rejected the null
hypothesis with F-Distribution = 5.522, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.041, which is less than the critical value
of 0.05 level of significance. Thus, it can be interpreted that participants differing in financial status
had significant different effects of stress.
5.5.3. The Relationship between the Causes of Stress and Effects of Stress
The results of hypothesis testing showed that, in total, there was a positive relationship between the
causes of stress and effects of stress. The relationship of these two variables was at almost high level
with Pearson Correlation of 0.641, and sig.(2-tailed) = 0.000, which is less than the critical value of
0.05 level of significance. Thus, it can be interpreted that the effects of stress can be lessened if the
causes of stress can be reduced.
Table 8:

The Relationship between the Causes of Stress (x) and the Effects of Stress (y)
Variables
Pearson Correlation

Causes (x)

Sig. (2-tailed)
N
Pearson Correlation

Effects (y)

Sig. (2-tailed)
N

Causes (x)
1
.
317
.641
(**)
.000
295

Effects (y)
.641
(**)
.000
295
1
.
327

** Significant at 0.01

6. Discussion on the Research Findings


The results from a study on the causes of stress of staff and lecturers of Mahidol University showed
that participants perceive time management in terms of having difficulties completing the jobs before
the due date as the high cause of stress. It may be possible that when the university has transformed
itself from public university to be the university under control of government or autonomous university
and adopted an evaluation system of performance agreement (PA), as such, it puts a pressure on
university staff and lecturers, which may lead to create stress anytime. In order to manage time
effectively, Tanikawa (2001) suggested a few of well-known time-management, which consists of the
followings:
1. Making daily list of activities to be accomplished
2. Prioritizing activities by importance and urgency
3. Scheduling activities according to the priorities set

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4. Knowing your daily circle and handling the most demanding parts of your job during the
high part of your circle when you are almost alert and productive.
Moreover, there were two moderate causes of stress related to finance comprising of worry
about personal expense, family expense, having debt, compensation and benefits; and work
characteristic comprising of worry about plan and policy in work performance, progress and job
security in the workplace, work load, and boring tasks. With regard to finance, Turner (2010)
suggested that in order to balance an income and expense, one should purchase thing only if it is
necessary. When one considers buying a new item, one should think about what one already has, which
can serve the same purpose. Turner also mentioned that in order to maintain this balance, one can take
two forms: (a) either to increase income or, either to decrease expenditure. With regard to workload,
Cunningham (1997) pointed out that when employees are given more work than they can reasonably
handle, they become victims of work overload. However, if they are given menial and boring tasks
to perform, they become victims of work under load. Thus, workload should be given to employees
based on their knowledge, skill, experience, and preferences in appropriate ways.
The results from a study on the effects of stress of participants showed that there were two
moderate effects, which were, (a) physical effect in terms of headache and physical burnout; and (b)
mental effect in terms of loss of concentration. These effects were relevant to the causes of stress,
which can be said that, when participants face with worry and anxiety, they are confused and frustrated
or think too much. Confusion and frustration cause headache; headache causes difficulties in
completing the jobs before the due date. When these effects are cumulated, they become overburden,
which is hard to manage. Eventually, it leads to loss of concentration in performing any duties.
Concerning strategies for managing stress of participants, the research results showed that most
of participants place great emphasis on strategies for reducing stress in time management, in which
they might try to complete the urgent and important jobs before the due date in order to reduce work
overload. Strategies for reducing stress in time management were implemented almost in the same
level as strategies for reducing stress in mental health, which participants try to accept the reality and
bear in mind that not everyone can achieve everything which he or she hopes and wishes for. This is
because many things in the world are uncontrollable; some are beyond our ability to reach. Thinking
like this may prevent them from being stressful. They try to do their best; however, if the result is
contradictory, they can accept it with fewer worry and less stress. It can be said that they hope for the
best and prepare for the worst.
Concerning strategies for managing stress in finance, most of participants have made a list of
income and expense in order to reduce financial problem and debt problem, followed by working parttime in order to increase income and reduce financial problem. The research results also showed that
those who receive higher income had lower stress level than those with lower income. In order to
balance an income and expense, Turner (2010) studied the financial stress and its solution; the results
showed that magazines, newspaper and other media were found to suggest ways to save money while
shopping. A simple lifestyle might require that you should purchase only the necessary things. If you
can control your expenditure, you may be able to balance it with your income. For example, when you
consider buying a new item, think about what you already have. You do not need to have every new
appliance on the market whereas what you already have could serve the same purpose.
Concerning strategies for managing stress in workplace, most of participants try to keep
watching at their workplace to be a safe and secure place for working, followed by arranging tables
with flowers and other decorations in order to relax and reduce work stress. Armour (2003) found that
working conditions and physical work layout can put pressure on people; working in an overcrowded
room or in a visible location where noise and interruptions are constant can increase anxiety and stress.
Organization should provide a stress-free work environment because stress in workplace can reduce
productivity, increase employees absenteeism, increase management pressures, and make employees
ill in many ways. Thus, an appropriate and comfortable workplace can increase relaxation and
happiness at work.

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Concerning strategies for managing stress in co-worker relationship, most participants try to
compromise and accept the different idea of other co-workers in order to solve a conflict at workplace
and have the jobs done. A good relationship with co-workers is very important way to have the jobs
done effectively because each department in organization is dependent on one another; none of them is
independent. Thus, poor relationship with co-workers will lead to stressful problems. Arnold, Cooper
and Robertson (1998) found that employees who have poor relationship with co-workers cannot work
to achieve organizational goals because there will be a lack of trust, lack of support, and lack of
participation of their colleagues.
In Buddhism, friends should support each other as follows: share with them, speak kindly to
them, help them, be constant through their ups and downs, and be faithful and sincere with them
(Payutto, 2004).
Concerning strategies for managing stress in work characteristic, participants work continually
in order to reduce work overload, followed by asking for some advices from knowledgeable persons
when they are doubtful with some plans and policies as well as adjusting and changing the method of
working with creative ideas in order to reduce routine job boring. The results of this study are relevant
to a study done by Farber (1984) which assessed the sources of stress of 365 suburban teachers in the
United States and found that excessive paperwork, unsuccessful administrative meetings, and the lack
of advancement opportunities in teaching were related to stress.
Concerning strategies for managing stress in family relationship, participants use patience and
calmness without aggressive emotion and all kinds of abusive behavior towards their family members,
followed by an acceptance of the different perspectives of their family members in order to reduce
family conflict. This is true because the family relationship must be built based on love, kindness,
compassion, generosity, respect, devotion, forgiveness, and patience in order to maintain good
relationship and good feeling among each family member.
Concerning strategies for managing stress in physical health, most of participants use
entertainment like listening to music and watching concert in order to reduce stress, followed by
temporarily stop working, free themselves from all kinds of tasks, and travel somewhere for relaxation.
Channuwong and Kantatian (2012) described that music in itself gives a sense and feeling of
relaxation. There are two kinds of music: negative stimulus music and positive stimulus music. Each of
them can help listeners relieve their stress. For examples, negative stimulus music usually contains the
facts and realities in human life; some music can give a good lesson to be well prepared to cope with
unexpected and unsatisfied situations. Some music can help to increase new hope to listener who is in a
period of hopelessness due to some disappointments. Other types help listeners to feel sympathetic to
others, and increase compassions and kindness towards human beings. Positive stimulus music can
increase relaxation, and help one to forget to think about problems and unsatisfied events one is facing.
Moreover, such music can change negative feeling to be positive.
The results of hypotheses testing concerning a difference in the causes of stress of participants
classified by demographic profile showed that age group, marital status, work experience, and financial
status were factors influencing the causes of stress. These factors can be explained reasonably, for
example, those who were younger aged, stayed single, had less work experience and lower financial
status tend to have more causes of stress than those who were older aged, married, and had longer work
experience with higher financial status.
The results of hypotheses testing concerning a difference in the effects of stress of participants
classified by demographic profile showed that age group, work experience, and financial status were
factors influencing the effects of stress. These factors influence the effects of stress in the same ways as
they influence the causes of stress i.e. those with younger age group, less work experience and lower
financial status tend to have more effects of stress than those with older age group, longer work
experience and higher financial status.

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The results of hypotheses testing concerning a relationship between the causes of stress and
effects of stress of participants showed that the causes of stress and effects of stress were almost highly
related, which can be interpreted that the effects of stress can be lessened if the causes of stress can be
reduced.

7. Recommendations from the Study


This study discovered many interesting and useful information from both closed ended-questionnaire
and open-ended questionnaire. Thus, the researcher would like to make the following
recommendations:
1. Most of participants are worried about completing the jobs before the due date or work
overload, they perceive workload as the high cause of stress. It may be possible that an
evaluation system on performance agreement (PA) is very much dependent on documentary
work, thus the university should have experts to help them perform the routine jobs to meet
the requirements of performance agreement in accordance with the university policy.
Moreover, participants should set up priority of jobs to be done so that each activity can be
completed within the timeframe without any delay.
2. Most of participants are worried about their incomes; they perceive that their incomes are
not enough for personal and family expense in the current high cost of living. Thus, the
university should consider the increase of incomes of university staff and lecturers in order
to match with the current high expenditure. This is because the salaries of university staff
and lecturers are almost three times less than salaries of employees with the same
educational level and experience in most private companies.
3. The income earnings, which are less than personal and family expense, lead to create debt,
causing a stress circle, in which some employees have to spend almost total parts of their
incomes to pay for debt and credit card. Instead of creating new debt, employees should
find part-time jobs in order to increase income, purchase only necessary things, and avoid
purchasing unnecessary goods.
4. As the university has transformed itself to be an autonomous university, some fringe
benefits like Medicare for employees children, spouse and parents as well as tuitions of
employees children were cut off, and employees must be responsible for the expense on
these fringe benefits by themselves. Thus, it creates a huge burden for new employees who
start working for less than five years because their salary base is quite low. In order to help
them balance the income and expense, the researcher would like to recommend employees
to look for part-time jobs, or perform any extra works to earn more income.
5. Some participants are worried about responsible workload and boring tasks. For those who
are worried about responsible workload, they should work constantly and continuously in
order to reduce work overload. For those who are worried about boring tasks, they should
adjust and change methods of working with creative ideas in order to reduce routine job
boring. Moreover, the performance appraisal of staff and lecturers should be made based on
work performance, not on personal relation or patronage system. By such way, it can help
create job satisfaction to staff and lecturers who dedicate and sacrifice their time, physical
and mental energy for the growth and good reputation of the university.
6. When participants are stressful with something, they should stop working temporarily, walk
around the office, take deep breathing until they feel relaxed, and then start working again.
By this way, it can help reduce stress at work more effectively.

The Causes of Stress and Strategies for Managing Stress: A Case Study
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605

8. Recommendations for Further Research


1. This research confined itself into investigation of the causes of stress, effects of stress, and
strategies for managing stress of Mahidol University staff and lecturers, there should be
further study on the same variables in other educational institutions.
2. This research did not intend to compare the causes of stress, effects of stress, and strategies
for managing stress of Mahidol University staff and lecturers with any other universities,
there should be further study comparing the aforementioned variables among other
universities in Thailand.
3. The results of this research can be used to generalize the public university with similar
profile in terms of number of staff and lecturers, number of programs offered, workload,
facilities, and financial status etc. This study is not applicable to other business organizations
with different profile, there should be further study on the variables related to stress
management in business organizations.
4. This research focused on the causes of stress, effects of stress, and strategies for managing
stress of Mahidol University staff and lecturers, there should be further study on the same
variables at international universities located in Thailand.

9. Acknowledgement
This research project is supported by Mahidol University, Thailand. Thus, we would like to express our
special gratitude to Mahidol University for granting the research fund for conducting this research.

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