How many times have you procrastinated working on an important assignment under the pretext that waiting to complete it in a high-stress environment will motivate you? Although scientific research shows that short-term stress can be a powerful motivator to reach the finish line with pressing project, it’s important to recognize that long-term stress is bound to wreck havoc upon both your mental and physical health as a result.
Stress is the body’s fight-or-flight response mechanism to danger. Its symptoms manifest themselves in the same way, whether we are attacked by a predator or we have to study for a test overnight. Stress triggers the release of hormones that help us cope in any dangerous situations: cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. When we experience stress, our normal bodily functions, such as digestive and immune systems, slow down to focus all our resources on adaptation to the survival mode of the body.
In a busy college environment, we encounter multiple stressors in our daily lives, such as loud noises, tight assignment deadlines, presentations, roommate drama, midterms and final exams. In fact, there are several types of stress we are prone to: acute short-term stress provoked by temporary triggers like cramming to meet a midterm deadline, episodic acute stress and chronic stress, which is the most harmful of the three types. Chronic stress typically occurs if one shoulders more commitments than they can juggle. Studies show that 44 percent of people suffer from chronic stress. Stress, in general, eventually can lead to a weakened immune system, irritability, insecurity and even an emotional breakdown.
Overworking ourselves in the weeks preceding the end of the semester is a common component of the bi-annual final studying process. To minimize our chances of failing, we are tempted to lock ourselves up in our dorm, the library or a cafe to work non-stop for hours. However, this technique is bound to lead you to burn out and potentially lead you into an endless cycle of stress. There has to be a better way to tackle stress than to simply come to terms with living that way.
There are several activities that students can incorporate into our routine to reduce daily stress levels. Unsurprisingly, healthy living is the answer. For example, exercising may sound like the most obvious cure for stress, yet we often disregard that and ditch the gym when school work overwhelms us. But physical activity contributes to our mental well-being because it triggers the release of endorphins, which are chemicals associated with the feeling of happiness. Sticking to a fruit- and veggie-based diet is also advisable as it helps maintain our immune systems. The same goes for drinking plenty of water and cutting down on coffee. I know, I know — NYU runs on coffee, but cutting out the caffenation may actually be the cure to your energy lag.
All in all, when the feeling of being overwhelmed is creeping inside your head, consider taking a break from what you are doing. Ask yourself: is it truly beneficial to focus on scenarios where you get a bad grade or don’t meet a deadline? And once you understand that it only drains your energy, cut negative thoughts out and work toward accomplishing one task at a time.
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Email Dasha Zagurskaya at [email protected].