Tackling Stress: Taking Control

Stress can take over your life, how will you take control? Photo Credits to http://www.youthink.ca/taxonomy/term/49/0?page=14.

By Sam Bailey-Loomis

Paige Cacace, a junior at BHS knows something about stress. She says that “grades, homework, due dates.. my schedule.. and the balance between life, school, and after school activities” causes stress on her. She copes with her stress by “getting frustrated,” she said. “But then I kinda just do what I have to do to get it done.”

It is something students, like Paige, from all over  have to deal with every day.

It’s SAT/ACT season! Students are taking tests, writing essays, applying to colleges, and stressing out about it. Believe it or not, studies show that stress can allow people to perform at their best – in reasonable doses, that is.

According to the Stress Publication by the Harvard Medical School, when people sense danger, the body’s defenses kick into high gear in an automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the stress response. When the stress response system is working correctly, it can be beneficial, and help people stay focused energized, and alert in any situation.

There are countless side effects of stress, but there are some indicators to look out for when identifying whether someone is “stressed-out.”

According to the Harvard Medical Journal, These include memory issues, poor concentration, poor judgment, anxiousness. Emotional symptoms of stress include moodiness, short temper, agitation, feeling overwhelmed, and a sense of loneliness. Physical symptoms of stress include aches, nausea, chest pain, and frequent colds. Behavioral symptoms of stress include eating more or less, sleeping too much or too little, isolation, procrastinating, or using drugs.

Jocelyn Giordano, also a junior, says “Junior year [stresses her out] And also my parents hustling me about my grades.. I usually get help from my friends if I need tutoring in different classes- especially math.”

Additionally, the Journal added that people can all handle different levels of stress, and it’s important for someone to know what their maximum and minimum stress levels are. Things that influence someone’s stress tolerance level usually includes their support network (having good relationships, friends, family, etc. can help prevent against stress), their sense of control (confidence and control over each situation they find themselves in), their attitude (optimism can fight stress), ability to deal with their emotions (the ability to control and understand their emotions can keep their body and mind in balance, preventing and fighting stress), and their  knowledge and preparation (knowing how long & difficult a situation is going to be can help them cope, and decrease stress).

The Harvard Medical Journal continues to explain that major external causes of stress are usually caused by major life changes, work, relationship issues, financial problems, being too busy, and children & family. Major internal causes of stress can include inability to accept uncertainty, pessimism, negative self-talk, unrealistic expectations, perfectionism, and a lack of assertiveness.

Also, long term exposure to stress can cause serious health problems like heart disease, digestive problems, sleep problems, depression, obesity, and skin conditions like eczema and even acne. Learning stress management can help reduce stress in someone’s life. It will always be existent, but the level can be greatly reduced. Learn to manage time, and take control in every situation. Learn how to relax through methods like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. With practice, people can learn to spot stress, and react to it quickly through methods that are most effective toward their stress level.

The famous Dr.Oz, in giving his most effective stress relief tips to Oprah suggests “Give yourself extra time to get wherever you need to go.. Exercise gives you an outlet to release some tension…knowing you’re not alone can help you cope with stress [being with friends]…”

Stress can be taken gracefully or will hit head on like a full blown steam train. It is up to people, as individuals, to determine their own destiny, control their health, and tackle their stress head on.