Undergrad Adventures: Stress Management

I'm convinced that my perpetually high stress level is what keeps me from being overweight.
I’m convinced that my perpetually high stress level is what keeps me from being overweight.

I’m down to my last two general education classes (scary, I know), and the stress management class I’m taking might be one of the most informative classes I’ve ever taken.

Identifying the types of stress in your life can be a very powerful experience.

There are two types of stress in your life: eustress (the good things that happen to you that are still stressful, like getting a new job or moving) and distress (the bad things that happen to you that are stressful.) There are two types of distress: acute (things like getting a bad grade on a test or being late to work) and chronic (credit card debt, a death in the family or a divorce.) Some things that are eustressful for people can be distressful for others, and vice versa. However, what’s really important is discerning what in your life falls under each category. That way, you can keep track of the good things that happen in your life, and balance out your acute and chronic distresses. Lots of chronic distresses are very bad.

There are many different types of stressors. 

We all feel physiological, environmental, sociological, psychological and philosophical stress, and each type has many different stressors. Similar to being able to discern eustress and acute and chronic distress, figuring out which of my stressors fall under what kind of stress has been very helpful. Rooms with a lot of people in them (environmental) and feeling sick (physiological) are both examples of things that stress me out, but they are completely different. Being able to pinpoint the source makes fixing it much easier.

Your body actually goes through a lot in a stressful event. 

In addition to increased heart rate and blood pressure, all sorts of things are happening throughout your body. Your salivary glands dry up, your spleen and stomach shrink and all of these hormone levels increase. Stress doesn’t just happen in your mind, but your physical body too. I knew that the mind-body connection was important from practicing yoga, but it’s been cool to learn about the scientific side. There are nearly 1800 identifiable emotions that we can feel, and every emotion causes a physiological reaction. It shows just how strong the mind-body connection really is, which is cool to know.

Your personality, to a large extent, predicts how we deal with stress. 

A Type A personality is the most stress-prone personality, while a Type D is the least stress-prone. I would consider myself somewhere between A and B — I acknowledge that I get stressed out a lot over all kinds of things, but some stressors I handle a lot better than others. Learning about my personality more and how certain characteristics affect my stress levels has helped me get a better handle on them.

The way the class is set up is ironically stressful — it’s conducted completely online, and there’s a lot of work to turn in every week. But by the time the quarter is over, I hope that I’ll have a better handle on my stress. I’m going to need it post-graduation.

Have you ever taken a class on stress management? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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