Raise your hand if you have ever been stressed. If you are not raising your hand, I'm not sure whether to congratulate you or be annoyed with you. Life is stressful, school is stressful, friends are stressful, family is stressful, things are just.....stressful. Im not going to lie, I have had plenty of experiences with stress in my life, practically every day. Somedays, I feel like I want to crawl into a hole and stay there. Not only does stress feel horrible, but it also be unnecessary, and take you away from what is truly important. I wish I could tell you that there is some magic pill that will solve all your problems with stress and problems in general, but sadly, *sigh*, there is none. There is however, things we can do to control stress and stop it before it gets overwhelming and paralyzing. But first, let's understand how our body undergoes stress.
Fight or Flight Response:
Back a long, long, long, time ago......Whatever time you are thinking of long before that..... our ancestors were cave-people. Un-civilized and uneducated, cave-people relayed on purely their animal instincts to survive. This is when the fight or flight response first developed. In most basic terms, the fight or flight response represents the two choices our ancestors had to make when in the face of "danger", either fight or make a run for it. Though we may not be facing wild lions and bears on a daily-basis nowadays, we still have that same response when faced with a challenge. This response can happen before big tests, presentations, or an overwhelming amount of homework. Our bodies and minds are still really primitive. Our body may perceive a presentation as a life-threatening situation. In primitive times, we could run away and it would release the adrenaline and our bodies would go back to a normal state. Now, we have to live with this stress all day, every day. So how do control this fight or flight response, with exercise, meditation, and positive self talk.
Have you ever heard of an exercise high? That feeling that you get after finishing a run, a bike ride, or a sports game, like you are walking on clouds. This feeling is caused by endorphins, which our the body's neurotransmitters that make us happy. During a intense workout, we are only concentrating on the workout itself, so our mind is cleared from all distracting and stressful thoughts. A good, hard workout can give us clarity about a situation, blow off some steam and do something heart healthy in the process.
There's a reason why the Buddha always looks so calm and stress-free, he lives in a constant state of meditation! Meditation is one of the most effective ways to calm your mind. Allow yourself to let go of any outside worries and concentrate on the way you feel at the present moment. Inhale perspective and exhale stress. As I talk about in my Products I Swear By page, the Calm app is perfect for quick, easy, and accessible meditation techniques and music. According to The Mayo Clinic, practicing meditation daily can help manage blood pressure, anxiety, asthma, sleep problems, depression, tension headaches, and much more.
Positive self talk:
Here's a question for you. How many times do you talk to yourself in a day. Don't worry I wont judge, I talk to myself constantly. It's only natural to bounce thoughts back and forth in our head like a tennis match. I tell myself, "You will never get this project done", "You'll fail this test and end up with a horrible grade this semester". This might be the same for you. All of us have a dialogue running through our minds all the time, and a lot of it we are not aware of. This can so be damaging to our psyche. Think of yourself as your best friend, the stuff we say to ourselves we would never allow to be said to our best friend, and yet, we say all these horrible things to ourselves consistently. We have to learn to shut this negative train of thought off, and replace this negative thinking with positive motivation. This is not easy to do, and it takes a ton of practice to eliminate this internal dialogue. When we recognize why we say these things to ourselves and make a promise to ourselves to stop, this negative self talk can become quiet and hushed.
Managing stress is essential for high-school students, we have to constantly stay on top of the game. Though I can't guarantee less stressful situations in your future, I can confidently say that this techniques will help you deal with it.