Stress is something most students deal with almost every day.
Time commitments pile up, money runs short, and we become irritable and lose focus. On occasion, I find myself shouting at my boyfriend or roommate and then apologizing, attributing my outburst to the fact that I’m too stressed out.
While stress is a natural occurrence that our bodies are meant to handle, the effects of chronic stress can be detrimental. The stress response is an innate response that was designed to protect early humans from physical threats, like saber-toothed tigers and other frightening predators.
More commonly referred to as “fight or flight,” this response gives us an extra boost of adrenaline so we can either confront the problem or have the stamina to run away from it. The physical effects include an increase in blood glucose, suppression of the digestive system and an elevated heart rate.
These responses are all designed for a physical confrontation, but modern stress – like too much homework, an annoying coworker or a final exam – also can trigger the same response.
It’s virtually impossible to cut every stressful situation out of life, but that’s not the point. The body hormonally resets the body after one of these big fight-or-flight situations. However, it’s when we are under constant stress and our body doesn’t have time to recover that the bigger health problems occur.
According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, effects of long-term stress include heart disease, obesity, sleep problems and depression. To combat these negative consequences, we must learn to deal with stress in a manner that eliminates the panic that we experience.
According to helpguide.org, it is important that you realize you are in control of your life; this is the foundation of stress management. Know what stresses you out and mentally prepare yourself for the situation. This can help you tackle the problem with more confidence and direction, enabling you to avoid feeling threatened by the circumstances.
Keeping a positive attitude, avoiding unnecessary stresses, accepting the things you cannot change and managing time efficiently are all ways that you can take control over a particularly stressful event.
Lifestyle changes are also important if you are to have a stress-less life. It’s important to treat your body right by getting enough exercise and sleep, eating healthy, avoiding too much caffeine or sugar and purposefully setting aside time to relax or to do something you enjoy.
It’s inevitable – we will have stress in our lives. But to avoid the negative physical and emotional effects, it is essential that we take control and practice healthy stress reduction habits to help us cope with those especially daunting tasks.
Sarah Hurd is a senior in kinesiology. She teaches aerobics classes at the LIFE Fitness Center at noon on Fridays. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.