Stress is the reaction of the human nervous system to disbalance with the environment caused by internal or external factors. It can take numerous forms, from slight changes in the mood to severe psychological disorders. People can either follow the natural desire to react in a stressful situation or try to control it consciously. Adjusting the natural response may be possible or not depending on how much influence the factors have on a person. One of the common reactions to stress is expressing negative emotions toward usually insignificant events when the organism is exhausted physically and mentally.
Initially, stress helped humans to survive and adapt to the environment by triggering defense mechanisms. However, in today’s society, people let the worries not only stimulate useful reactions and solutions but bother them to the point of developing chronic diseases. Stress may cause real physiological responses, such as clogged arteries, increased blood pressure, or excess belly fat. Robert Sapolsky studied the harmful effects of social worries on baboons and people and came to the conclusion that they may cause deteriorating health and even early death in both groups (Kalarritis, 2018). These factors should be considered when people choose to multitask to achieve the desired position in society.
My previous two years have included numerous stressful events, as they would for most modern people of the student age. The main ones include finals weeks when much information was studied and evaluated over a short period of time. The grades may not seem vital on a large scale, but they become the primary benchmark during the examination for the students. Apart from tests, the finals weeks also include sleep deprivation and lack of regular physical activity, all of which affect the health negatively. Another stressful factor is the year 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic and the fear and uncertainty it had brought with it. It is nearly impossible to ignore the news about the death rate and lack of appropriate treatment for the disease.
Both my mother and cousin have high anxiety levels about nearly anything that happens in their lives. Even small issues, such as the taxi being late or dry casserole, may cause them to overreact and become upset. They both realize that this behavioral path has a negative effect on their health but choose not to work with it because of the lack of time. I have noticed that small factors, such as someone’s comment about my appearance or taste in entertainment may cause me to overanalyze it. Sometimes negative thoughts disrupt sleep or distract me from school work. I seem to be at high risk for anxiety problems considering that my relatives have similar issues. This disorder is on WebMD’s list of the health problems related to stress that could be treated (Griffin, n.d.). There are strategies I can use to control my negative reactions and possibly even benefit from the situations that currently cause negative emotions.
Anxiety and Yoga
Anxiety is a relatively common problem for modern students, but it could be managed through different instruments. Some people prefer talking to a professional psychologist to address the reasons behind their worries, while others distract themselves with creative activities, videogames, or sports. Lemay et al. (2019) suggest that yoga and meditation can be particularly useful in decreasing anxiety and stress levels among students. Sessions do not have to be frequent since even one ninety-minute class once a week is enough to significantly benefit the participants after a month and a half.
Yoga and guided meditation could be an effective solution in my case, although there are two potential problems with it. The first one is lack of time; as a nurse student, I have many responsibilities, and finding even one extra hour per week to dedicate to yoga could be challenging. The second issue is in finding an instructor that would match my needs. Lemay et al. (2019) studied a relatively small group (twenty volunteers) led by selected professionals, and even in that case, some of the participants could not finish the project. To regularly attend yoga and meditation class, I would have to find the right time, level, and instructor for it, which is currently possible but difficult.
Stress in My Life
All my relatives are hard-working people who have achieved their goals through perseverance and a continuous learning process. I was raised to focus on achieving goals through honest effort. Studying medicine adds to the anxiety level as well since the whole field is concentrated on helping other people despite physical tiredness or personal issues. The classes, home tasks, hospital visits, and future perspectives of difficult tests and work at medical institutions have made anxiety more or less a norm. Since I chose this life path, the possible solution to decreasing the health risks for me would be time management and setting correct priorities. That may include avoiding social media or choosing to take sick leave when needed instead of ignoring the sickness.
Living a stressful life is admired in modern society; people with demanding careers are used as examples, and future nurses are expected to study much and be extremely tired most of the time. Movies and books present those with successful careers as positive role-models while having leisure time is portrayed as a rare exception. This became a social norm; however, such state is not acceptable for a healthy lifestyle. People need a decent amount of sleep, enough time to process and consider the information, and physical activity in order to develop their potential at work and in social life.
The change towards less stressful life model could start either from the leaders or from individual people. In the former case, influencers and politicians could propagate a slower lifestyle and the need for personal time. The latter model would need the individuals to be independent enough to prioritize sleep, meditation, time with the family, or whatever activity they need to include in their routines in order to have a balanced life. The combination of these two scenarios would be ideal for human society to become healthier both mentally and physically.
Since this assignment has brought to my attention the physical and long-term negative effects of stressful lifestyle, I will prioritize my physical and mental needs despite it being challenging. A yoga and meditation class would be a relatively achievable goal to contribute to both mental concentration and physical activity to help my body recover after long studying sessions. I realize that changing old habits is not easy, and my relatives, for example, could not do it. However, I believe that caring for my body and mind could benefit me as a future health specialist.
Griffin, R. M. (n.d.). 10 health problems related to stress that you can fix. WebMD. Web.
Kalarritis, G. (2018, March 4). Stress: Portrait of a killer. A National Geographic documentary [Video]. YouTube. Web.
Lemay, V., Hoolahan, J., & Buchanan, A. (2019). Impact of a yoga and meditation intervention on students’ stress and anxiety levels. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 83(5), 747-752. Web.