Health & Wellbeing

Let’s stress less, shall we?

Neha Lalchandani shares some facts about stress and how we can overcome being frazzled, especially during exams.

Stress is a reaction to a stimulus that tends to disturb the physical and mental equilibrium. In today’s busy lifestyle, we face many stressful situations such as exams, assessments, deadlines and social pressures.

“As an adaptive response to stress, a change occurs in the serum level of various hormones including adrenaline and cortisol that immensely surge through the body.  Constant stress conditions leads to an overdrive of the body, which in turn causes the occurrence of anxiety and depressive moods, leading to distress due to increased secretion of cortisol from the adrenal glands,” says fourth year UON medical student, Thomas Tran.

A little bit of stress, known as acute stress, can be exciting and acts as a driving force to keep us active and alert, however long-term, or chronic stress can have detrimental effects on health and can cause harmful consequences on the endocrine function and immune system.

According to the 2014 Stress and Wellbeing survey carried out by the Australian Psychological Society, young Australians in the 18-35 age group reported the highest levels of stress and distress. Symptoms included palpitations, insomnia, fatigue and lethargic behaviour, loss of concentration, impaired learning and memory, weight gain due to binge eating and in some cases, weight loss due to a decreased appetite.

Now, we all know that nobody enjoys being down in the dumps, but let’s face it… it happens to all of us at some point in time. Fortunately, there are some simple, yet effective methods to reduce stress and get the feel-good hormone, serotonin, flowing in your body!

  1. Turn up some good music

Listening to music that you like can improve your mood. Studies show that music can help reduce stress by decreasing cortisol levels, hence altering your brain chemistry, leaving you motivated and pumped to allow you to be more productive as your gloominess fades away.

  1. Maintain good physical activity

Academic life is often sedentary, and we often find ourselves sitting around and letting stress accumulate in our body. Release the stress by exercising at the gym or even better, outdoors, and get some vitamin D for added benefit. Opt to do any sport that you love, go for yoga classes with a group of friends or perhaps wash your car. The trick is to get blood flowing all over your body so you feel energized!

  1. Dark Chocolate and Vitamin C, yes please

When you take a bite of chocolate, and feel happier, it’s not just your imagination. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of polyphenols that release serotonin and as a result, you feel better as the feel-good neurotransmitter becomes more available to your brain. Also, eating fruits and drinking juices high in vitamin C has been known to help regulate cortisol and prevent blood pressure from spiking in response to stressful situations.

Always remember that you may not be able to control the stressful circumstances around you, but you can definitely alter your reaction to them. Look on the bright side, talk it out to someone who cares and do not hesitate to ask for a hug! Stay positive and happy.


Image: thornypup, Flickr, no changes made.

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