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Quick, deal with that stress (before you pull your hair out)!

by Carolyn Steber

Editor-in-Chief Alex Seise
has a lot of stress in his life!!!
Life would be so much easier without stress. But, like it or not, it is an essential part of life. It is the reason you get out of bed in the morning, go to class, go to work and even drive your car safely. Unfortunately, an unhealthy dose of stress can effect every part of your life from your sleeping habits to your health, your skin and even your relationships. Young adult stress is different than any other kind of stress and it affects males and females differently.

There are two different kinds of stress: the good kind and the bad kind. If you are jogging down the street and a pit bull starts chasing you, your body will respond with a "fight or flight" response. Your heart will race and your muscles will tense up. A split second later, once safely on top of the nearest mini-van, your heart stops beating as fast and you can relax. This reaction to stress saved you from harm. It is an example of "good" stress.

Now imagine that you are studying and you haven't eaten in a few hours. Your stomach is rumbling, so you reach for an apple. It may seem simple, but the fact that you ate was also due to good stress. Somewhere in your brain a reaction went off, stressing you to eat some food.

For an example of "bad" stress, think back to a time when you were really mad or upset. Perhaps your significant came over and started an argument with you about how you forgot to call him. He completely ignores the fact that you are studying. In the middle of the argument, your boss calls to ask why you aren't at work yet. Right as you are about to slam the door and storm off, you see a commercial on TV for exercise equipment, reminding you that you forgot to work out today. You may have noticed that your blood pressure rose, yours hands started trembling and later at work you felt nauseous. This is bad stress and it can cause endless unhealthy reactions in the body.

Too much bad stress can condition the body to constantly be in that "fight or flight" mode. You may be reading in bed, but your body is acting as if it is being chased by that pit bull. If bad stress exists for too long in your life, and you may start noticing its adverse affects.

According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can cause poor sleeping habits, gastrointestinal problems, skin breakouts, headaches, chest pains and weight changes. Over a long period of time, this bad stress can cause everything from anxiety to depression to a loss in concentration. It also takes a toll on your youth, causing you to age quickly and have poor health later on in life. You may try to deal with your stress by avoiding situations or by comforting it with unhealthy habits, such as excessive drinking. You may smoke, be argumentative for no reason, or overeat. You may even be so used to the stress in your life that you haven't even noticed the toll it is taking.

Some argue that young women have more stress than their male counterparts. While most men can roll out of bed, get dressed and leave the house without facing scruples, society expects young women to multi-task and exhibit exceptional control over their lives. It is not fair, but unfortunately, it continues to exist. This added pressure creates "bad" stress in their lives and can lead to many health and psychological issues down the road.

What are the best ways to deal with stress? Begin by organizing your life. If you have control over the factors that are stressing you out, they cannot affect you nearly as much. Next, indulge in relaxing activities like yoga and meditation. These will help clear your mind and eliminate remnants of stress that may exist there. Maintain a healthy diet and destroy bad habits (such as smoking, excessive drinking and nail biting) as soon as you notice them. They may feel as though they are reducing stress in your life but in the long run, they are just precursors to worse problems. Finally, avoid procrastination and indecision. Jump right into projects head-first and tackle them as best as you can. No one will fault you if you are imperfect, but everyone will have a right to blame you if you are just plain lazy.

In short, deal with stress before it become a three-headed monster (or hungry pit bull) and you'll reap the benefits of a relaxed, calmer life.

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