Stress is good?!

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As a student, I must say I’m quite familiar with this phenomenon called stress. Indeed, stress is kinda part of life right? Actually, according to this 2013 survey, 65% of us, students, feel stressed. And it actually doesn’t come as that big of a surprise. Studying is like a full time job, it’s an amazing experience, but at the same time, it’s hard working. Besides the studying, there’s also the social life, the part time job, concerns about the future and the search of figuring everything out. On top of that, a lot of students, instead of taking some extra rest during holidays, try to build their CV’s by doing extra activities on the side such as internships.

However, while reading one of the articles for the next tutorial, I found these common misconceptions regarding stress:

  1. Stress is all bad! (You should strive to eliminate all stress in your life. It is often thought that stress is unhealthy, and that it should be entirely banned from our lives. However, stress can be incredibly helpful to us. If our lives were fully stress-free, it would be impossible to ace the exams! If we wouldn’t experience a little stress now and then, many tasks would probably be left undone. The stress that actually helps us to achieve goals and objectives is called eustress. The stress that has negative implications and that may cause harm, is called distress. So the right sort of stress, and in the right amount, can help us reach the limit and even go beyond them.
  2. It’s all in the mind, and can’t cause real harm. Nowadays, this misconception is less common than it used to be. This is because there is more known about the association between stress and mental and physical illness among people. People start to see, and experience, that stress can indeed be really harmful.
  3. Stress is caused by excess. This is also a common misconception. Doing absolutely nothing, can actually be quite stressful. So stress isn’t necessarily only the result of too much work or overstimulation. A day without goals or meaning, can be stressful as well.

Tips for dealing with stress

So a little dose of stress a day, may keep the bad grades away. But of course, too much stress isn’t healthy or good. In the literature, this kind of stress is called distress. Distress refers to a mental state of discomfort, suffering or strain. There are several ways to reduce this kind of stress. I’ve chosen to describe a few popular methods, that have also worked for me!

  1. Healthy nutrition. A famous German expression is, “Man ist was Man isst”. This is German for Man is what he eats or you are what you eat. The quotation is not meant to be taken literally. Rather does it state that the food that we eat, exerts influence on our health and state of mind. This is strongly related to stress, in a sense that we can reduce stress by choosing the right diet. According to scientists, high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich foods can reduce stress by causing the brain to release more serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical chemical messenger in the brain, that is responsible for feelings of wellbeing and happiness. So eating these kinds of food, may increase feelings of wellbeing. Examples of high-fiber food are corn, white beans, black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, avocado, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, edamame, whole-wheat bread and lentils. Examples of carbohydrate-rich foods include whole grain and legumes.
  2. Exercising can also relief stress. Basically anything will do, from aerobics to swimming. The reason behind this, is that physical activity causes an increase in endorphin production. This is another chemical messenger in the brain that is responsible for feelings of wellbeing. On top of that, exercise can also improve sleep, which may also lower stress.
  3. Meditate! No explanation needed.

By Pooja Guptar

Sources:

  • “What is Stress?” By Sulsky & Smith, 2005. Work Stress. London, etc: Thomson, Wadsworth.
  • The Guardian
  • PCRM
  • Health

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