By: Catiyana Adam
January can be one of the busiest months of the year. With summatives, exams, university applications, course selections, tests, and projects crowding our minds, it’s unsurprising that most of us fall victim to stress! But what is stress? Why should you avoid it? And… HOW can you avoid it?
Not all stress is bad. “Eustress” is the technical term for stress that is beneficial – it helps you react and adapt to changing situations. It’s that slight panic that convinces you to get started on your homework before 9pm, or the nervousness about a presentation that prompts you to practice just one more time.
Chronic stress, however, is bad. When our bodies perceive a situation to be life-threatening, our flight-or-fight response kicks in. Your body readies your muscles for action, speeds up your breathing and heart rate, represses any inessential processes (such as digestion or immune response) and tells your kidneys to retain water. But sometimes our body mistakes stressful situations, like a test or a presentation, as life-threatening. When stressors like this trigger a fight-or-flight response on a daily basis, you can just imagine the long term effects! Water retention leads to high blood pressure, a lowered immune system renders you susceptible to illness, and other disorders – such as heart disease and depression – become far more common.
Reduce stress! Anticipate stressful situations and prepare for them as best as you can. Recognize the conversation happening between your brain and nerve impulses, and slowly you will begin to decode the stimulants that signify a panic attack. The better you get at this, the quicker you will be able to trigger your “rest-and-digest” responses by command.
Remember: stress is as physiological as it is mental. You CAN be in control!
GOOD LUCK as first semester comes to a close!
You got this!