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  • Isabelle Nichol

A Guide for Those Who Stress

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

By: Isabelle Nichol, Contributing Writer

Edited by: Elias Azizi, Editor in Chief


Stress can be a common problem for many working individuals or those still in school. Teens can fall under both categories more often than not, which can, as one would imagine, create significant buildups of stress. Since society has evolved, a large amount of information is circulating from various ‘lifestyle’ pages on many different sites. However, several of these sites are actively spreading misinformation, whether intentionally or not.


Many pieces of media also encourage unhealthy coping mechanisms for stress such as alcohol, and other methods which allow you to temporarily forget about the issues at hand. More often than not, due to a lack of knowledge about coping with stress in this era, people will often turn to these unhealthy mechanisms since they aren’t aware of other, healthier methods which would work.


Before searching for solutions to cope with the stress, individuals need to ensure that they aren’t creating an unnecessary mental burden for themselves. There’s a checklist of sorts that someone can go through, to figure out whether their stress can be prevented by simply meeting one of their body’s needs. Some examples of options on this checklist are whether the individual has met their daily quota of sleep, hydration and/or proper nutrition. A large proportion of individuals aren’t sleeping enough, or their sleep hygiene is incredibly poor.


There are multiple ways to improve your sleep hygiene. If integrating all of them simultaneously proves to be too large a task, try adding one or two steps to your routine gradually. The CDC recommends having a better routine overall and having better habits concerning your bedtime. Some of their suggestions were to keep a good ambiance. Keeping a dark, quiet room which is set to a temperature that helps you to sleep could make a larger difference than you’d know. Other suggestions include removing stimulants from the routine or area within a certain period before going to bed. This would include TVs, cellphones, other devices, and substances such as caffeine. Ultimately, they’ll harm your ability to get a good night’s rest.


Another factor that possibly harms your mental state is a lack of proper hydration. The standard recommendation is 8 glasses per day; however, many rarely meet that goal. By reaching, or coming close to 8 daily glasses of water, many individuals could greatly improve their mental state. To give some examples of the positive benefits, being properly hydrated can improve both brain performance and energy. Both of these improvements may aid in reducing stress. Having proper brain function can help an individual finish various tasks that create stress much more efficiently than before. Drinking water likely won’t entirely solve the issue, but it could certainly help an individual with the stress and anxieties of day-to-day life.


The final factor mentioned would be proper nutrition. Brains constantly require fuel to function and keep the various corporal systems alive. The higher the quality of the food, the better the brain functions. By providing the brain with proper nutrients, it’s able to function as it’s supposed to. Studies have been conducted on related topics, specifically the effects of ‘traditional’ diets compared to a ‘typical’ Western diet.


The researchers found that diets high in unprocessed, or close to unprocessed foods tended to lower the risk of depression in those sticking to this lifestyle. This applies to stress reduction or management by allowing people to change smaller things in their lifestyle, which can create a butterfly effect of sorts. These ripple effects will allow an individual to create change in their routine, and hopefully improve from a stress standpoint.


If adjusting these aspects of the routine (nutrition, hydration and sleep) isn’t creating enough change, there are certainly other options. One solution that is commonly recommended by professionals is to exercise more frequently.


Exercise can work wonders for someone’s mental state. The act of aerobic exercise can balance and lower stress hormone levels in the brain. A lower amount of these hormones can equate to lower stress overall. Another positive effect of exercise is endorphin production. Endorphins are natural mood boosters and painkillers. Another possible perk that comes from exercise could be its use as a distraction from life. When doing more intense activities, an individual may be distracted by their focus on the movement, and in turn, that individual would forget about the day’s stress (at that moment at least).


Some other methods recommended by professionals are various activities. They can be classified into two groups: hobbies and relaxation techniques. As far as hobbies go, participating in activities which you enjoy can aid in decompressing after a tough day or week. This also can operate in a similar way as exercise. Focusing on the motions instead of the aspects of life that are causing you to feel stress can alleviate at least a portion of it, allowing individuals to destress when needed. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga and other forms of stretching can also help individuals to learn mindfulness. As stated by the Mayo Clinic, these sorts of activities may aid in balancing fight or flight hormones, and in turn, aiding an individual to destress when needed.


To conclude, there are many easy methods to try out when faced with immense stress due to many factors. Often, if one method doesn’t work well, others may do the trick.







Sources:

“10 Reasons Why Hydration Is Important.” The National Council on Aging, 23 Sept. 2021, https://www.ncoa.org/article/10-reasons-why-hydration-is-important.


Harvard Health Publishing. “Exercising to Relax - Harvard Health Publishing.” Harvard Health, 7 July 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax.


Mayo Clinic Staff. “Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 3 Aug. 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469#:~:text=Exercise%20increases%20your%20overall%20health,%2Dgood%20neurotransmitters%2C%20called%20endorphins.


Selhub, Eva. “Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food.” Harvard Health, 18 Sept. 2022, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626#:~:text=Eating%20high%2Dquality%20foods%20that,oxygen%2C%20which%20can%20damage%20cells.


Stoll, Malaika. “10 Simple Ways to Cope With Stress .” Sutter Health, https://www.sutterhealth.org/health/mind-body/10-simple-ways-to-cope-with-stress.


“Tips for Better Sleep.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Sept. 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html.


“Tips for Coping with Stress|publications|violence Prevention|injury Center|CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Nov. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/about/copingwith-stresstips.html.







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