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Illustration- Minor in Theater Arts
Syracuse NY

Stress Management

Clarissa Baston on Thursday, 19 March 2009. Posted in Coursework, Student Life

In my last blog, I mentioned that I am taking a stress management coarse to fulfill one of my wellness requirements.  At first I didn't want to take the class because I wanted to do something more physical and would help me get in shape.  But my boyfriend convinced me to take the class with him and for the past two classes I have learned a lot! 

When my professor first walked into the classroom week one, at first glance, he looked like a magician with his slicked back, ponytailed hair.  I thought maybe he would hypnotize us into being less stressed.  But in reality, he was a former RIT student who chose a different path from what he majored and he now teaches the stress management coarse AND the kung fu class.  That's stress management teacher is also a kung fu master(aka "Sifu") awesome is that.  He also lets us sleep in class because he says that if we fall asleep in probably because we need that time to sleep!

Anyways, so far we have learned the nuts and bolts about stress and how stress affects college students.  So here are a few facts that I have learned that I want to pass on to those future college students and maybe even some currents college students as well:

-80% of all diseases are stress related.  The body is weakened by stress and becomes prone to disease.  (that explains my chicken pox last year!)

-Stress can be an isolating feeling.  Sometimes when you are overwhelmed with everything that's going on, you feel like you are the only that is going through this awful ordeal, but in reality everyone goes through stressful situations so it helps to talk to others to relieve that stress.

-The first step for stress management is recognizing what stresses you out.  Knowing your stressors is the best way to make it go away.

-Sleeping is how your body recovers from stress.  Sometimes if you are too stressed out, your body shuts down and you either get really tired or you pass out. 

We also went over the short and long term effects of stress on our bodies:

-Short Term: When we are stressed, our bodies produce a chemical cocktail to cope with the stress.  Adrenaline is the main hormone that is released and that explains that sudden rush when we are stressed out and that sinking feeling in your stomach.  Your blood pressure also goes up and it almost feels like your heart is beating out of your chest! 

-Long Term: When you are stressed all the time, the short term reactions can result in a more long term way.  The chemicals that you produce when you are stressed are constantly being released into your body...which is not good.  You tend to have constant headaches, muscle tension, you feel like you can't focus, and you become more irritable and take that frustration out on those around you.  Now this takes a real toll on your body.  You can get really sick if you stress yourself out too much.  You can develop skin problems, high blood pressure, and even diabetes!

Now, I'm not trying to scare you guys, but I think it really fascinating and can really help.  My professor listed 3 problems that a lot of college students suffer from and they are digestive problems, insomnia, and palpatations.  Which makes complete sense because as college students, we don't exactly have the best diet, our sleep patterns are so off and we feel like we never get enough sleep (that explains why we all love to nap so much.) and we feel certain pressures that can really effect our hearts.

But not to worry!  We do learn techniques to deal with our stress.  It's what my professor calls "the stress tool box." 
-Right now he has us writing in a stress journal (which sounds lame I know) where we write down an event where we feel stressed.  This way we can start to see patterns in which we deal with our stress and then find a different way to deal with it. 
-Next is venting.  This is different from complaining.  Sometimes we just need to talk about what stresses us out.  If you feel like you don't wanna bug anyone...then write it down!  I know I have 20 notebooks where I just write whatever or even just doodle to let all that frustration out. 
-My favorite tools is breathing.  It sounds silly, but it really helped me.  We did a breathing excercise called abdominal breathing and its where instead of breathing normally, we breath with our stomachs...that way you use the majority of your lungs, which brings more oxygen to your body.  And you just have to take deep breaths, keep your mind clear, and just focus on your breath.  In a matter of minutes you feel so relaxed it great!  We get to do this at the end of each class which is cool too!

The most important thing that I've learned is that stress isn't always a bad thing.  It can motivate you and push you to reach your goals, but when you feel overwhelmed and you can really feel your body taking a major hit from all the stress...IT IS OK to take a step back and recover.  For example, yesterday started off pretty well.  The weather was nice and nothing went wrong.  But then I had an 8am class where my teacher kept rambling about nothing and she was going to make me late for my next class and I wouldn't have times to grab some coffee, which makes me grumpy and it just threw my whole day off.  Then at the end of the day when it came time to meet up with my boyfriend...he was not happy either.  He has been having trouble at work and he's probably 100x more stressed than I am, which doesn't make me feel any better.  So here we are...two incredibly stressed out college kids who just need to relax.  What do we do?  We decided that we could relax if we were be a body of water or something.  So we went to....Niagara Falls!  It's about an hour away from here and we figured there wouldn't be anyone there so it would be awesome having the whole place to ourselves, not to mention that it's incredibly romantic :) 

It seems like a crazy thing to do, especially in the middle of the week.  But it gave us a chance to really let go of all that stress and realize what really matters...

p.s. I'm not looking at the camera because I was trying to look into the distance...(yeah i'm an art kid lol)