How stress affects our well-being

Reading Time: 2 minutes Whether a result of school assignments, work deadlines or personal problems, stress is a common part of everyday life. However, while some stress can be beneficial, chronic or excessive stress may have negative effects on your well-being.

An unidentifiable man covers his face with his hands.Reading Time: 2 minutes

One of the most significant ways stress can affect your well-being is through its impact on mental health. 

According to Bruce McEwen in his article with the National Library of Medicine, chronic stress can lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. This is because “[b]rain regions such as the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex respond to acute and chronic stress by undergoing structural remodeling, which alters behavioral and physiological responses.” 

Moreover, stress can also lead to physical health problems. According to McEwen, when we are stressed, our body’s natural response is to release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Although these hormones are natural, they can have negative effects on the body over time, such as raised blood pressure, an increased risk of heart disease and a weakened immune system. 

Chronic stress can also lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating, substance abuse and social isolation, which can further impact both mental and physical health. 

Fortunately, individuals can take steps to manage and reduce their stress levels. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), some of the most effective ways to manage stress include deep breathing or mindfulness, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy and balanced diet. Additionally, according to NIMH, seeking professional help such as counseling or therapy can be an effective way to manage chronic stress and minimize its negative impacts on mental health.

Finals can be a time of extremes for students, but there are ways to reduce stress and improve performance. 

Regarding her exam preparation strategy, Alexandra Ramirez, a UVU student studying business administration, said, “One must start preparing early; don’t wait until the last minute to study.” Starting early will help you feel more prepared and confident, which can reduce stress. 

Cassandra Vazquez, a UVU student studying English literacy, also shared a tip to avoid stress during finals: “Instead of trying to cram all of your studying into one long session, break it up into shorter, more manageable chunks.” Vazquez continued, “To help prevent burnout and make the information easier to retain, it really helps me to take breaks throughout my study sessions to give my brain a chance to rest and recharge.” Vasquez also shared that going for a walk, listening to music or doing another fun activity helps to take her mind off studying.

While stress is an inevitable part of life, it is crucial to understand the negative effects that chronic stress can have on your overall well-being. By taking proactive steps to manage stress levels, individuals can improve their mental and physical health, leading to a better quality of life.