By Harry Pearse
As a Psychology major, the subjects of stress, depression and psychological illness come up often. These are the reasons why I chose Psychology as my favored subject. I am intrigued and fascinated with the immense power the brain and psyche have on your physical body.
Last week, while watching a video from the ‘70s about stress in psychology class, I realized how stress has the ability to make you ill and deplete your immune system.
At this time of the semester, with stress levels rising around the fortress of Pioneer country, I want to help all of the international students, as well as anyone else reading this week’s column, including myself, to overcome falling into the abyss of stress.
We need to make sure we look after our minds and bodies, that way we can get the best performance when it comes to revising essays or completing tests. Stress is something that everyone feels is a part of life that can’t be controlled, but as the video that I watched in Psych said, “We must control our stress levels to decrease blood pressure and release the anxiety we may encounter.” (This was said in a very cheesey ‘70s, with a deep and serious voice, almost comical!)
Despite the humorous tone of the TV presenter, the point stands: whenever we get overwhelmed with work and our stress levels rise, a hot flush infests itself around the body and we begin to panic, “s**t, I have so much work to do!! And I have to revise for my test tomorrow!”
All of us just need to relax, take a break with a few deep breaths, and have a cup of tea (well, I guess for a lot of you, it’s coffee, right?), and just chill out for five minutes. I would suggest not having coffee, because it actually raises your heart rate and blood pressure, making it more likely for you to suffer from anxiety. But you guys may say the same for my beloved tea. So, if not coffee, have a glass of water or even hot chocolate (I have heard Norwegian hot chocolate is a thing of beauty!), and stop your work, let the fluster pass, and relax. Resume studying or writing that essay when you feel you have the power back in your hands.
I am not saying that stress can be completely taken away; stress in our society is a frequent thing that we all have to come to grips with. We have school, social media, work — a constant rush throughout our days — and if we compare to what cavemen had to deal with, it’s almost comical.
Imagine an odd, stressful encounter with a wolf, followed by a nap on the luxurious stone sofas, before having that very wolf for dinner! Whereas our generation has almost been born into a world of stress, right?
One way we can prevent stress from taking over our lives is through exercise! Going to the gym or playing a sport for a few hours a week has been proven to not only release all the stress and tension you have built up in your mind and body, but to improve your mood as well. Thus creating a better environment for you.
A second important way in which we can reduce stress is to be organized. For me, a to-do list is a thing of immense importance! If I haven’t put everything down that’s in my head throughout the week, I get overwhelmed and pissed off (which, for you guys, may mean annoyed). So if you blotter down all the subjects and assignments you have to complete on a to-do list, it makes it easier for you to organize your time, releasing the anxiety and stress of forgetting something, as well as helping you to concentrate, taking one thing at a time.
Finally, it is crucial to get out of the stressful school or work environment for a period of time. Do not work yourself too hard! You have to leave yourself some time to play and have fun. This can vary from watching Spartacus (which I am addicted to at the moment!) or going to Manhattan and exploring what the “City that never sleeps” has to offer! These are the best times of our lives, while you have how many years of work and deadlines ahead of you?
Of course, getting your work done at an A-standard is extremely beneficial, but you also need to remember that we are too young and vulnerable to run ourselves into the ground and allow stress to beat us down. If we work extremely hard to achieve our equilibrium, we need then to rest and chill out! It is good to balance fun and hard work, especially when midterms and exams come. So, make sure that you work hard and play hard to achieve that equilibrium. It will make you better, and won’t leave you in the firing line for illness. How could you possibly complete that test or hand in that assignment if you are sick?