Stress: Its effects, and how to handle it



Photo credit: MCT Campus

Britteny Urich, Opinion Editor

It is not surprising at one point in time or another that a student experiences stress. A heavy feeling that makes a person want to pull their hair out and scream at the top of their lungs; certainly a feeling that almost everyone can relate to.

For some students, working a full-time job, going to school, and keeping up with homework – all while trying to maintain a personal life – can be a lot to handle. Some people believe they perform better under stress, however they may not realize how bad it can cause certain effects to the body.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when one becomes too stressed they may experience difficulty concentrating. Symptoms of sadness, depression anxiety, anger, tension and guilt are some of the emotional side effects of stress.

Stress can take a physical toll on the body. Symptoms include loss of sleep, elevated blood pressure, headaches, back pain and fatigue. According to the American Psychological Association, research has also shown stress over a long period of time can weaken the immune system and bring on certain diseases such as heart disease and obesity.

While it may feel like stress has become too much to bare, there are ways in managing it so that it does not become too overwhelming.

The CDC recommends one of the best ways to combat stress is exercising regularly. Exercise helps to create endorphins, which are “feel-good” neurotransmitters in the brain. Meditation is also good to relax the mind and body. Getting plenty of sleep as well as eating a healthy and balanced diet are important. It is easy to resort to eating junk food on a whim, but complex carbs such as whole grain breads and oatmeal are better in maintaining sugar levels. Eating oranges, which are rich in vitamin C can help lowering stress levels while strengthening the immune system.

If at any point a situation becomes too stressful, take a two-minute walk to cool down. Take some time during the week to rejuvenate. Watching a movie, taking a walk along the beach, reading a book or getting a massage are just some ideas.

Talking to someone about stress whether it is a friend, partner or health care professional can be beneficial as well. Mesa offers therapy by appointment in the Student Health Center.

Take care to avoid drinking, or taking drugs. While it may seem like a temporary fix, it will in the long run hinder, not help in relieving stress. Alcohol and some drugs are considered downers or depressants, which lowers neurotransmitters in the brain.

One of the most important things to remember is there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever it is that is creating stress, like all things will eventually come to pass. Life is not meant to be lived constantly stressed. So take a breath, and enjoy it.