Stress management critical to education

The midterm elections are just around the corner as the political ads, mail and phone calls we have been inundated with all make very clear. 

For Kirkwood, the midterm week has just passed. All the students have drudged through the midterm week; a week filled with exams, nerves, sleep deprivation and most obviously, stress. The stress of midterm week can be overwhelming. 

Managing the stress of midterm week, or any week in college for that matter, is a very important tool. Chronically elevated stress levels are linked to an increased likelihood of many illnesses. 

It can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, problems with sleep, headaches, stomach aches and mental illnesses. So, learning how to alleviate and control stress is crucial.  

Managing stress can take a variety of shapes and forms. For some, it is a simple process of taking a deep breath. For others, stress relief can take multiple activities or a larger period of time. It is important for an individual to find what works for them when it comes to their stress management.   

One of the most highly recommended strategies to manage and alleviate stress is some form of physical activity. The best part of this strategy is that there are all kinds of physical activities to choose from. 

It can be anything from swimming, scrimmages in a sport, yoga or taking a walk. The important part is to get active and increase your heart rate. 

The act of increasing your heart rate and getting some movement allows your body to increase the production of feel-good hormones like oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone in the human body that is responsible for decreasing stress. Oxytocin is the brain’s signal to the rest of the body to relax. It also promotes things like growth and healing in your body.   

Another great strategy for stress relief and management is to connect with others. For some, this can be hard to achieve while under higher stress levels. 

The natural human response to high stress is to isolate oneself from others. It may be a natural response, but it’s not helpful in the slightest. 

Connecting with others during times of stress can provide great relief through distraction and comfort. The stress doesn’t feel like such an overwhelming force when there are friends or family there to help.   

There are many other ways to manage or relieve stress. These are just two of the most impactful ways. Many different organizations such as Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association have helpful suggestions to manage stress. 

It may be hard sometimes. It can feel like it’s not worth trying. Take it one step at a time. Implementing even one of these strategies can make a world of difference.

Categories: Editorials, Opinion