Stress is a part of life that everyone faces. High school students are especially familiar with this issue.
Stress is the body’s physical or mental response to a stimulus that disturbs the body’s equilibrium, or balanced state. Some stress, known as eustress, is considered good stress, which is normal and beneficial to the person who experiences it.
Another type of stress, known as distress, is the anxiety that some high school students often experience.
Distress can have many negative effects on the body, causing headaches, stomachaches and high blood pressure. Stress can also cause loss of sleep and energy.
There are many ways to deal with distress to decrease the effects, although some ways are healthier than others. Unfortunately, drinking, smoking and ignoring the problem are common mechanisms used for coping with stress. Healthier options include taking breaks, getting fresh air and exercising.
One good method for relieving stress is doing yoga. The Harvard Health Publication website states that yoga may help reduce the effects of stress and help with anxiety and depression.
Kandy Krampitz, an experienced yoga instructor at The Himalayan Institute in Buffalo, says that practicing yoga allows people to get out of their heads and into their bodies.
"We bring clarity to our minds, allowing us to have better judgment and be more decisive," Krampitz says.
Practicing yoga is a technique open to anyone who needs to relax. The Himalayan Institute has open classes every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. for $5. These classes are open to all ages and all ability levels.
Meditation, often used during yoga, is also helpful when dealing with stress. Sitting and relaxing for 10 to 20 minutes gives your body and mind a necessary break. The website www.doyogawithme.com has 30 guided meditation tracks to listen to, as well as yoga class videos to follow. The site www.mindfulness-project.com also offers tips on meditation.
These websites help people to understand their body and needs, an experience that most students do not find time to experience.
"You are able to have an awareness of your body," says Krampitz. "When we are aware of ourselves we become aware of our actions, we become aware of stress, we become aware of emotion and attitude."
Yoga is not the only form of exercise that helps with stress, however. Running, walking, swimming, or any other type of exercise that you like will help to reduce stress. Working out with a friend or on a team is a fun way to stay in shape and decrease the affects of anxiety.
Not only does exercise affect stress, the foods you eat can affect stress levels, as well.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found that foods high in fiber and carbohydrates cause the brain to release the hormone serotonin, which helps the body and mind to relax.
So when heading to the school cafeteria during a stress-filled day, try to grab some pasta or soup with beans and lentils, which will give you energy, but won’t bring you down.
It is also important to eat many fruits and vegetables, as stress causes a decline in the immune system. Fruits and veggies help to boost the immune system and help prevent an already stressed person from getting sick.
Having a fruit smoothie in the morning or after school is a great, healthy way to include fruits into your diet to help your body deal with stress.
To prevent and reduce stress, staying away from foods with high fat content is vital, as these thicken blood and can make a person feel tired.
Sugar should also be bypassed during stressful periods because of its rapid movement in the bloodstream that often leads to a "crash."
Other fantastic ways to reduce anxiety include getting a good night sleep, taking breaks to take a walk and calm down, taking deep breaths, and maintaining a positive attitude. It is also important to try and accept what you cannot control and do your best with the things you can.
Sarah Crawford is a freshman at Nardin Academy.