Chronic stress can negatively affect your health.
It’s the beginning of the school year, and we’re all (we hope) getting back into our normal routines. However, for many this means facing an overwhelming amount of stress. Whether it be from school, extracurriculars or just being busy, all of us are experiencing some level of anxiety. Speaking of stressful, I’m writing this article at the last minute, but I’m hoping you can’t tell.
One method to reduce stress is to exercise. Trust me, I would rather watch Netflix too. However, exercise has many benefits, one of them being that it directly attacks stress. Exercise increases the production of certain hormones (such as norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin) that are conducive to learning and improve cognitive function.
According to Matthew Stults Kolehmainen, kinesthesiologist at the Yale Stress Center, exercise can drastically improve your mood and can even reduce some of the brain damage caused by chronic stress.
Working out with a friend or listening to your favorite music while exercising can keep you motivated when homework weighs you down.
Another way to reduce stress is to practice mindfulness. As we learned in the recent assembly, meditating, deep breathing and light yoga can also work. We’ve all gotten a taste of what mindfulness is from the assembly, and I wanted to re-iterate how beneficial it can be. Deep breathing has been shown to decrease cortisol levels, which spike when an individual is faced with a stressor. Cortisol is often associated with the “fight or flight” response, which results in a temporary increase in energy. Because the school year is packed with stressful activity, cortisol levels are elevated, which can negatively affect your health. High levels o f cortisol can suppress your immune system, cause a blood sugar imbalance and even lead to weight gain. If you don’t have time to exercise, breathing exercises can be a quicker way to lower your stress levels.
Keep in mind that these methods will not make your personal stressors go away. However, these are simple ways to help you manage your stress in a short amount of time. So next time you have a big game or assignment coming up, try one of these approaches to help you deal with the pressure.
By Julia Shapiro