Continuous stress can play a huge role on our health both physically and mentally. But learning how to handle this stress — in each student’s unique way — may ensure more focus on schoolwork and less focus on those pesky side effects of stress that are different for all of us.
Dr. Amber R. Abernathy, assistant professor with the psychology department at Missouri State University, researches stress. Abernathy said, while no one enjoys stress, it has many great properties, such as teaching us safety and reaching deadlines.
Long-term stress, however, can cause many health problems. So it is important to find time to unwind through ways like meditation, exercising or relaxed breathing.
“This will help the HPA system, also known as the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, (which is responsible for the stress response) have time to recover,” Abernathy said.
Unwinding benefits our health by making us less susceptible to illness.
“Appropriate unwinding can allow our stress response system to ‘reboot,’” Abernathy said. “This decreases the cortisol or stress hormone in our bodies.
Billie Green, professional school counselor for Neosho High School, guides students dealing with stress in their day-to-day education.
“Doing something to unwind and relax occasionally is essential for all of us,” Green said.
Taking time to relax acts as a reset button on our bodies. Adding any type of physical activity releases serotonin which makes us feel happy and relaxed. When added with enough sleep and eating healthy, you have a perfect recipe for handling stress.
There are a lot of different ways to successfully unwind. Everyone is different and not everything will work for everyone.
Other students shared how they unwind. Jessa Stone, junior entrepreneurship major, chooses a more hands-on approach to battling stress through rock climbing.
“All stressors are pushed out of my mind,” Stone said.
Easton Flaugh, senior mechanical engineering technology major and a member of the Missouri State football team, feels stressed throughout the week due to his busy schedule.
“I unwind from stress by playing video games, watching YouTube and taking a nice nap,” Flaugh said. “Doing these things, I am able to get my mind off school and football.”
Mikayla Christiansen, a sophomore psychology major, said she unwinds by working out, taking long hot showers and making new music playlists.
James McFerron, senior mass media and digital film major, finds peace from stress by hanging out with friends and roommates, visiting downtown, watching movies and playing video games.
And, even with dozens of ways to positively unwind from stress, there are still negative ways that a lot of students find themselves participating in.
“These ways often involve substance usage, large social groups or media usage,” Abernathy said. “Although, many consider this as taking a break, it can still activate the stress response system.”
A lot of students take a break as a way to procrastinate which only increases stress.
The best way to handle a stressful life is plan ahead and allow time for breaks. If you have planned ahead, you will have time to do work and unwind.