Stress is a feeling that we have in response to particular demands. Events that create stress cover a wide range of situations: they can be everything from taking a test, adjusting to a new environment, to facing a physical danger.
What are the common sources of stress?
- Academic pressure
- Pressure to fit in with peer groups
- Adaptation to body changes
- Transition to higher educational levels
- Over-scheduling of extracurricular activities
- Expectations from parents
- Family and peer conflicts
- Relationship problems
- Career decisions
- Financial concerns
What are the signs of being “stressed-out”?
- Increased physical illness, due to suppression of the immune system
- Mood swings: increased anger and irritability
- Constant feelings of worry, nervousness, and hopelessness
- Problems with sleeping and eating
- Difficulty concentrating
- Withdrawal from social activities
Can stress have positive effects?
Yes! Although most people associate stress with worry, pressure, and tension, some types of stress are actually good for us. For example, the sense of challenge you feel before a class presentation, a performance, or a sport competition is an example of positive stress because it keeps you alert and prepares your body and your mind for the task. Many discoveries and innovative ideas are also results of positive stress. Appropriate levels of stress not only help us stay motivated, but they also add excitement to our daily activities. As you could probably imagine, life completely without stress would be pretty dull.
Consequences of negative stress
When handled inappropriately, negative stress can lead to serious physical and mental problems. Stress contributes to headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, and heart diseases. Repetitive stress is also the cause of anxiety, depression, memory disturbances, and other mental disorders. It is evident that people who are chronically stressed are more likely to engage in smoking, alcohol addiction, and substance abuse.
How to handle stress
- Take deep breaths
- Have positive thoughts: Say to yourself, “I can handle this.”
- Break down tasks into manageable parts
- Set smaller, progressive goals
- Be proud of your accomplishments
- Plan ahead, avoid last-minute cramming
- Take breaks and find ways to relax
- Exercise and participate in activities you enjoy
- Eat healthy, avoid too much caffeine
- Talk to people around you about your concerns
- Stop worrying about things that you have no control over
- Realize that no one is perfect