August 25, 2003
It's back to school time for many, and that can be stressful.
"Feeling like there
are too many pressures and demands on you? Losing sleep worrying about
tests and schoolwork? Eating on the run because your schedule is just
too busy? If you're feeling stressed out, you're not alone. Everyone
experiences stress at times - adults, teens, and even kids. But what
is stress?...Stress is a state of tension or pressure. Under conditions
of increased stress, the human body responds with a built-in biochemical
reaction, producing hormones that have specific physical effects....Stress
is the body's way of rising to a challenge, preparing to meet a tough
situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness.
Working properly, the body's stress response maximizes a person's
abilities under pressure."
It is sometimes difficult
for the body's stress response to "work properly," especially
when times of stress are not balanced with times of relaxation--times
that allow the body a break from dealing with the mental and physical
aspects of stress.
" * Stress can cause
an upset or nervous stomach.
* It can cause diarrhea or indigestion.
* Stress can cause a headache or backache.
* It can cause insomnia (being unable to fall asleep or
* Stress can lead to eating changes. You may eat too much
or too little.
* Stress can lead to aggression and anger.
* Stress can make you feel irritable, anxious, or frustrated.
* Stress can often lead to crying spells.
* Stress can lead to being withdrawn, or not wanting to
be with people."
"Stress has significant
effects on the brain, particularly on memory. The typical victim of
severe stress suffers loss of concentration at work and at home and
may become inefficient and accident-prone. In children, the physiologic
responses to stress can clearly inhibit learning....Studies indicate
that the immediate effect of acute stress impairs short-term memory,
particularly verbal memory. In one interesting 2000 study, subjects
took pills containing either cortisone (a stress hormone) or a placebo
(a dummy pill). Those taking the cortisone performed significantly
worse on memorization tests than those taking the placebo pill did.
In an earlier study, when individuals were subjected to four days
of stress, verbal memory was also impaired. Fortunately, in such cases,
memory is restored after a period of relaxation."
With the new school year
comes new opportunities to fill up your schedule.
"It's easy to join one
too many exciting activities. Ask as many questions as possible before
you join. Sit down with your school schedule, work schedule, and other
activities and try to map out what's realistic. Are you taking a class
this semester that requires extra studying time? Do you need to focus
on grades? Does your bus only come once an hour by the time practice
is over instead of every 15 minutes? Will you have time to eat, sleep,
and relax? Everyone needs down time. If an activity adds lots of stress
to your life, it's not for you."
Life is full of enough stress,
as you look at what clubs to join, what sports to try, what hours
to take at work, be sure to check for balance. Is that extra hour
of practice going to be fun time with an activity you enjoy and maybe
even a few friends, or is it going to be just one more things you
have to do to make sure your college application looks "well-rounded"?
Questions of the Week:
How can you create a schedule that balances what you need to do for
school and work with what you want to do for clubs and sports, while
still managing to include time for friends, and time just for you?
What can help you remember to schedule time to relax and refresh before
the stress really builds? What things can you add to your schedule,
or remove from your schedule, that will make this school year more
enjoyable and more manageable? What aspects of your schedule can you
control, and what can you do to best help you deal with the aspects
that cause stress and are out of your control?
For more quick information
about stress, including:
" * What is stress?
* Who can get 'stressed out'?
* What causes stress?
* What does stress feel like?
* How can I deal with my stress?
* When should I call the doctor?"
You can visit: http://www.virtualpediatrichospital.org/patients/cqqa/teenagersstress.shtml
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum