Between final exams, landing summer internships, managing social lives, all the while being broke, the best way to describe the end of the semester for any college student would be stressful. Stress, is defined as, "a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension." We've all experienced it at some point in our lives and at certain times way more than others. It's an inescapable fact of life and too much stress can have incredibly detrimental effects. The self-care community on social media has made strides in finding ways to get rid of or at least minimize stress. As a society, we've grown so accustomed to the belief that stress is bad and we must find solutions to fix it. However, I believe that this mindset can do more harm than good in relation to our success and well being.
When thinking about stress we cannot forget that stress can actually be good. Not only for us but for the world we live in. The best examples of stress being positive can be found in Earth's natural processes. Wildfires, for example, are aggressively destructive to habits but are an incredibly necessary part of the ecosystem. The stresser, in this scenario being fire, clears away weaker trees and debris and returns the nutrients back into the earth as ashes. They exist to maintain a balance within nature. Stress on tectonic plants within the earth's layers creates beautiful landscapes such as the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountain Range. These gorgeous places would not exist without stress being forced onto the earth. Not only is stress necessary to the earth, but it's necessary for the health of our bodies as well. When we work out or lift weights we put stress on our bodies and in return gain muscle. Lifting weights literally breaks down muscle fibers and our bodies repair them through cellular processes. If our bodies and even our planet are equipped to handle stress, certainly our minds are right? I argue, absolutely.
I believe that the stigma around stress is rooted in the fact that not enough people know the difference between good and bad stress. Good stress is constructive; it does something else besides being harmful. Bad stress is destructive; it is only harmful. More often than not we mistake the challenges in our lives as bad stress when in reality they couldn't be more helpful to the bettering of ourselves. Sure, heavy course loads and hard exams can feel overwhelming, but they're supposed to. It forces us to become smarter, better workers, and makes us stronger humans. If you want to go far, you cannot expect to get there without stress.
Obviously, there is a major grey area and a fine line between pushing our limits and exhausting ourselves. That's why it is so crucial for us to listen to our mind and body and be able to know when to stop or keep going. Taking care of yourself, practicing mindfulness, and not self-sabotaging are all excellent ways to ensure that good stress does not turn into bad. Something like a final exam can be considered good stress if you take active steps to prepare yourself ahead of time. However, if you wait until the last minute to pull an all-nighter that's when a manageable obstacle quickly turns into a nightmare. What's important to remember is that we should not be afraid to take on challenges and step up to the plate in fear of becoming over stressed. Our bodies are designed to handle it and so are our spirits. Too much stress can cause us to burn out and crash, however it is the most important catalyst towards reaching success. How else are we supposed to get farther in life if we can't push ourselves to do so? Stress forces us to dig deep and find the fighter within all of us. It's up to ourselves to decide who will win.
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