COLUMN: How to manage stress

Are we killing ourselves needlessly?

The second week of classes is over, and it seems my teachers will not be planning much coddling this semester.

I love that, but I also wonder if I can keep up. I know many other students might not be wondering this yet, but oh, just wait for it.

As an early worrier, I like to get things prepped and organized ahead of time. If I don’t, I feel lost and out of sorts ... behind in the game, anxious.

Stress, along with other things like being exposed to fumes, drugs and even eating junk food, kills brain cells.

While chemical responses in the brain help us deal with possibly life-threatening situations, I am pretty sure that forgetting my Japanese homework isn’t a threat to my life.

According to the Franklin Institute’s resources for science learning page, while not all stress is negative, some can be beneficial to the immune system.

“Although the hyperactivating sympathetic nervous system jumps into action immediately, it is very slow to shut down and allow the tranquilizing parasympathetic nervous system to calm things down," reads the website.

So, it jumps the gun and stays on edge until the next time we forget our homework or lose our phone, and the list piles up with even more tiny meaningless things.

The Mayo Clinic recommends physical activity, music and yoga. I have to agree, but I would add a warm beverage like tea to the list.

It seems like we all are looking for ways to slow down, and perhaps we really are just over-thinking it, adding one more thing to the stress pile: Thinking about not being stressed so that we can take action against being stressed.

Talk to any student taking a stress management class, and they will often say it is the most stressful class they have taken. Apparently, even thinking about stress is stressful.

Perhaps just taking a relaxed calm look at things is the way to go. Okinawans of southern Japan adopt this practice, and, for the longest time, they have had the largest percentage of centenarians in the world. While they might have gorgeous beaches and warm temps to relax with, I am confident we can do the same in our frigid white sea of blizzard here.

Some people attribute it to their healthy eating, but others, including some of the Okinawans themselves, think just letting the breeze float on your skin is the best way to live out your days, not focusing on the best stress management techniques or your latest mistake.

I will be trying to take their advice. Now, please pass me the warm beverage.

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