New School Year Resolution: Keep Stress Levels Down

Richard Hsu, Fitness & Well-Being Columnist

School’s starting back up and we all know what that means: stress. However, in the beautiful concrete jungle, New York City, our rapid daily activities can only inadvertently raise the tension between our shoulders. Cortisol, the “stress hormone” released from the adrenal glands, is seen in the body’s fight or flight response in the sympathetic division of the nervous system. Often times this reaps positive effects such as a quick boost of energy and maybe even the capability of lifting a car up.
However, stress can really take away the gains of your overall health. It can create various problems such as lower immunity and higher blood pressure. The following tips can give you a few options to release that tension and allow you to function at your optimal levels of activity.

Clearly the most obvious, however many college students forget how crucial getting shut eye can be. According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a college-aged person should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Insufficient sleep can be dangerous and often lead to debilitating effects such as anxiety, cognitive difficulties, depression, and reduced physical health. Additionally, we are carbohydrate fiends. As your brain utilizes all the blood sugar supply, it begins to lack the energy stores it needs to function. Thus functionality begins to diminish. Put it simply, your brain needs sugars.
Fun Fact: According to the Police Policy Studies Council, studies show that the effects of sleep deprivation are similar to the changes in ability and judgment seen in a person under the influence of alcohol. “Seventeen hours without sleep is equivalent to a .05 blood alcohol level, and 24 hours without sleep is like a .01 blood alcohol level.” Good thing we live in the city where the majority of us do not drive.

Avoid Stressed People
Honestly, in a school of 22,280 students (in 2011-2012’s year), you can certainly find less stressful people. We are programmed with “mirror neurons” that mimic the ones around us. Growing up, I was taught that every person was the product of his/her five closests friends. This only makes sense when you think about the activities you engage in every day. Just think, you begin the school year completely different from your roommate, and if you maintain a relationship with your roommate, you typically end up finishing each other’s sentences. Well, perhaps not that drastic. However, one typically begins to develop similar traits due to environmental influences.

When you’re paying a relatively high amount of money for tuition, take advantage of your resources- specifically, the gym. With Coles and Palladium nearby, it only makes sense to hit the gym and go for a run.
Bear in mind, for those who live near campus, a great option is Yoga to the People, which is donation based. “Feeling stressed evokes tense, shallow breathing, while calm is associated with relaxed breathing,”  says Michael Lee, author of Turn Stress into Bliss and founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy in Bristol, Vermont.

Taking your vitamins is a critical part of maintaining a well balanced body. Include fruits into your diet or pop a multi-vitamin pills. Drinking an abundance of alcohol can actually strip you of your body’s nutrients, thus Sunday mornings are a good time to vitamin load up.
Magnesium serves as a key role in various functions in the body, especially combating stress. If your body lacks in magnesium, it is vital to restore balance back into your body. This will allow for your body to have positive biological responses to stress. Magnesium will aid in muscle relaxation and in conjunction to sleep, magnesium will calm excited cells and promote restful sleep.


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