Guest opinion: Stress can take on many forms

Nina Mendez, Staff Reporter

Stress takes on many forms.

A quick Google search for the word “stress” will net you a lot of results. One might see a list of stress symptoms, or tips for preventing stress. 

Stress, or “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances” seeps into our everyday lives and affects who we are. As the American Psychological Association puts it, there are three types of stress: acute stress, episodic acute stress and chronic stress. 

Acute stress refers to the little things throughout a person’s day. This type of stress can range from that feeling you get when you step into class one day and realize that you completely forgot that your homework, or your feelings immediately after your parents say, “Come in here a minute, we need to talk.” 

Acute stress is that heart-stopping I-forgot-to-breathe-in-order-to-live moment. Although the word acute, explained in medical terms, means something of short duration, our brains tend to dramatically extend the effects of acute stress. This means that although the worst of the stress is at the moment of impact, many of the symptoms of stress like headaches, stomachaches, anxiety and irritability continue on. 

For example, when people stay up at night thinking about that fight you just had with your best friend. Acute stress is very common throughout our everyday lives, but it’s easy to forget about it once everything is cleared up, making it all the more surprising and stressful when problems do arise. 

An easy way to deal with acute stress is to learn some breathing exercises. Breathing exercises are a quick way to alleviate stress and clear one’s mind. Being in control of our emotions when things seem out of control will help us remain calm and taking a minute to think things through may also help us realize that there was nothing to worry about in the first place. 

Another way to deal with acute stress is to stay organized. Writing down the details of your upcoming assignments can help you to stay organized and decrease the boat load of stress that comes from school (even if only by a little bit). 

Episodic acute stress is very similar to acute stress, except it happens much more frequently. As implied, episodic acute stress occurs in bouts or episodes. It occurs often to people who have taken on more than they can handle, because instead of having only a few stressors in their daily lives, they have multiple stressors. 

Having multiple tasks that need to be done on top of fast-approaching deadlines can not only increase the possibility of stressors, but also the amount of time spent stressed. This is how acute stress can easily turn into episodic stress. Feeling almost constantly stressed and overwhelmed can cause loss of sleep and, in many cases, hostility. 

Students like ourselves who understand what it’s like to deal with those never ending piles of homework, can greatly help relieve stress and take a little bit of pressure off ourselves. Although it may feel like there is no time for socializing or unwinding, carving a bit of time out of a busy day to make your own can help to give your mind and body a break from the stress of work. 

In connection with that, planning out the events of the day can help people prioritize their needs. This can help people plan their “me time” without feeling guilty about not working and decrease the time they spend procrastinating which will both help decrease your overall stress levels.

That brings us to chronic stress, which is the almost constant worry about things that are difficult to control. Chronic stress is caused by a person’s stress response system being constantly activated. After having experienced a traumatic childhood or accident, many people then live with the belief that they no longer have any control over their life. This can make a person paranoid and under the impression that they are constantly threatened or unsafe. 

Chronic stress symptoms include low energy, headaches, stomachaches, insomnia, and weak immune systems. It is potentially harmful if it goes on for too long.

Chronic stress is very serious and needs to be treated as such. If suffering from chronic stress, the best course of action would be to contact a therapist in order to figure out the root of your stress. Talking with your doctor would also be a good idea since chronic stress can disrupt your body’s systems and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Some stress can be effective in keeping people productive, but in the case of chronic stress, people could be seriously damaging their mind and body. 

Especially during high school and most especially during a pandemic, stress is normal. I could’ve written all day about the different types of stress, and there are countless articles and studies about stress and what causes it. 

However, what is a problem is that teens experience a crazy amount of stress, and although it’s common knowledge that high school is inherently stressful, it can be very difficult to find ways to alleviate it.