Background: Stress is a core component of negative affect impacting learning processes and their evaluation. To better understand the the factors with palliative effect on perceived stress in a Mexican population, this study adopted the Wellness dimensions holistic framework (Dunn, 1961), where character strengths represent social, cognitive, aesthetical and spiritual dimensions, exercise represents physical dimension, career represents occupational dimension, and stress is the part of emotional dimension here focused on.
Method: A transversal exploratory study was conducted on a sample of 1435 Mexican students who completed the Perceived Stress Scale-14 and the VIA-IS-240, providing biodata on their age, gender, exercise and career.
Results: Correlational analysis showed that all the dimensions derived from physical exercise and character strengths contributed significantly to lower levels of perceived stress in general and in both subscales, correlating positively with feeling in control and negatively with feeling overwhelmed (p< 0,01); an ANOVA analysis revealed that the occupational factor significantly contributed to the students feeling in control.
Conclusions: These results suggest the importance of teaching students about character strengths, and about the importance of exercise in stress prevention programmes. Besides, studying a major emerged as a preventive factor in itself, which needs to be further explored.