The thought of going back to school is something that is on all students’ minds the last month of their summer vacation. Memories of all the fun times they had with their friends the past semester come back to them, and just like that students can’t wait to head back to campus. Then once on campus, the memories of past stresses reoccur as they get back into the groove of class work.
The idea of the stress that is to come to them this semester is enough to make them tense. However, not all stress that people experience is bad stress. Many studies show that good stress, or short-term stress, can be good for our health.
According to Discovery Health, stress is when multiple “outside forces are exerting physical or psychological pressure on a person.” So how can force causing pressure on you be a good thing? Good stress can also be recognized as our body’s “flight or fight” response, something that everyone has experienced at some point in their life. Jane Weaver of MSNBC says that when the body perceives these stresses, “It starts pumping the chemical cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine.”
Suddenly, the body has a faster heartbeat, a rise in blood pressure and sharpened senses. The person experiencing this feels ready to handle any situation. It’s the same feeling you get when a professor assigns you a last minute project right before the weekend and makes the due date on Monday.
Ella Alonso, a junior at Millersville, says that this good stress “makes me give a better product because I am under pressure to do well.”
Dr. Firdaus Dhabhar of Stanford Center on Stress and Health, is studying some of the benefits of good stress. He has found that when short-term stress is paired with an immune activation, during a surgery or vaccination, the immune response is enhanced. “Our research aims to harness this natural stress response to boostprotective immune function.” said Dhabar.
If your stress is prolonged this could lead to a decline in your physical and mental health. Tom Scheve of Discovery Health says that stress, “is not a sustainable state of being and it’s only meant to be a short-term condition.”
“When it gets to be bad pressure I don’t deal really well. I often lose sleep over it and neglect other important things like personal hygiene. And then because of my lack of sleep I get these awful cold sores, and then I can’t focus on anything else,” said Alonso, who described symptoms and signs that most people experience, as well as upset stomach, lack of concentration, irritability and problems with appetite.
“When it’s bad stress, I will eat differently. I will eat a lot of bad things for me, and I eat too much of it,” said junior Lillie Manning.
In order to get through this stress we need to do something about it. Dr. Dhabar says, “From what we know so far, it’s pretty much grandma’s advice: sleep well, eat and exercise in moderation, and engage in activities that help you feel relaxed and rested.”
From a student’s perspective, junior Sarah Omlor says that she writes everything she is stressed about in her planner. “As they say, ‘we fear the unknown’. So that helps me put everything I’m worried about out on the table so it doesn’t seem as daunting” said
If you are a Millersville student who needs help dealing with your stress, contact the Center for Counseling and Human Development which is located on the third floor of Lyle Hall and provides counseling for students. Another option for students is MU Health Services which is located in Witmer Building.