March 24, 2023
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Take some time to rethink stress

“A Guide to the Present Moment” by Noah Elkrief

Some students stress like maniacs during the end-of-semester crunch, while others manage to keep calm. The reason for this may be brain chemistry.

Stress is the direct result of how you interpret situations ­­— meaning you can control it. This is the message from the new book “A Guide to The Present Moment,” and it couldn’t have come out at a better time.

Finals week is almost here, and many students are beginning to feel the stress pound down on them. This is especially worrisome, considering high levels of stress could cause the brain to shrink, according to a Yale University study.

While stress may seem inevitable, Noah Elkrief, the author of the book, said it’s possible to experience peace in stressful situations. The secret is how you perceive the situation. For example, if a professor tells you “This final will be the most difficult exam of your life,” you can either believe that statement or dismiss it. Those who believe it will be emotionally affected and most likely experience anxiety or fear. However, if you did not believe the statement, you will not feel any emotions.

Elkrief said when people believe a negative thought about their life, that thought will create stress. But if a person doesn’t believe that thought, no stress response is triggered.

It’s important to note that stress isn’t always bad. Hans Selye coined the term “stress” in 1936, defining it as any response of the body to a demand for change.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo studied the effects of stress on rats. When rats were forced to swim, they were able to remember their way through a maze better than rats who were allowed to meander through without added pressure. To meet the demands of classes, students’ bodies will need to produce a survival response.

In many cases this response will be stress, which releases energizing hormones, according to health educator Carol Scott, M.D. These hormones will signal the body to focus its energy on certain organs, like the heart and brain, while ignoring others like the stomach. This is why when people are acutely stressed they can go hours without realizing they’re hungry. The body focuses energy on areas that will help get the task done.

Stress is like cold medicine — if taken correctly it can help one pull through challenging times. However, if a person overdoses or uses a combination of medicine, the result can be detrimental.