The pros and cons of stress

Junior Meg Gerli experiences the average stress that tends to take over the lives of high school students. Learning to handle this stress is an essential for Convent of the Sacred Heart students. Kim Smith ’15

Stress is often associated with negative feelings such as anxiety, worry, difficulty, and tension. It is the human body’s physical, mental, and emotional reactions to any demand for change. Each person handles stress in her own way. If handled incorrectly, it can have negative impacts on people’s lives. If handled correctly, however, stress can serve as a productive force.

Undergoing stress for a long period of time can lead to extreme anxiety or pain, also known as chronic distress. Symptoms of distress can include headaches, upset stomachs, social withdrawal, anxiety, problems sleeping, mood swings and irritability.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress can also make existing problems worse. Once someone is sick, stress will intensify her symptoms, making it harder to recover.

Studies show, according to the APA, that 75 to 90 percent of all doctor visits involve stress related illnesses and complaints. Reducing stress will not only curtail short-term illnesses, but can also help mitigate the effects of long-term diseases as shown in one study, where nearly half of the patients’ chronic headaches improved after learning how to de-stress.

Stress management begins with determining the source of stress. Common sources include school, work, or fights with friends and family. Scientists have discovered multiple ways to reduce stress once the root problem is pinpointed. Physical activity, a balanced diet, and a sufficient amount of sleep are just a few ways stress can be alleviated. Drinking tea, chewing gum, and breathing deeply are other alternatives.

“I like to take walks and listen to music while I do my homework. This makes my stress level go down, and always keeps me calm,” junior Alexa Ditursi said.

Stress does not always have to be a bad thing. If well-managed, moderate stress can even be turned into a positive mechanism, providing an adrenaline rush that often leads to success.

“I tend to do my best work when I am under stress or have limited time to finish an assignment. It forces me to focus and get it done,” junior Concetta Brusco said.