Biologically speaking, stress is a feeling that comes about when your body feels the need to respond to any kind of demand or danger. When you feel threatened or under pressure, your nervous systems cleverly responds by releasing lots of lovely stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. The reason why clever was mentioned is because whether we like it or not, experiencing stress is not always bad. Cue fight or flight explanation. Relating to this explanation, we do fight our stressful opponents in our day to day lives with great success such as concentration in exams, motivation to revise for that exam, sharpening up in presentations and staying awake during lectures – because of the stress we experience, we react in a productive way in order to avoid experiencing that stress again. Whilst this full circle of stress may be beneficial, it is when our “stress comfort zone” is totally stretched that it starts to become uncomfortable and totally unbearable. This is what we would call chronic stress, i.e. stress being felt over a long period of time.
Let’s break down stress. It does not have to be a high risk, highly dangerous situation all the time in order to feel stress, it can be something as little as oversleeping or things going “wrong” several times a day which may amount to a lot of pressure at the end of the night, or high workload for a long time. Whilst the older generations amongst us may not respect our “stressful experiences” due to their inability of recognition or lack of education of stress, and may come out with things like “we had a harder life than you, what have you got be stressed about?” We have to kindly deny that paracetamol will solve our problems. Due to the fact that chronic stress or stress overload can lead to major health and mental health problems. Such as:
- Depression and Anxiety
- Weight problems
- Skin conditions
- Reproductive issues
- Somatic symptoms
- Oversleeping or sleep deprivation
- Cognitive and memory problems
- Shutting down of immune and digestive symptoms
Other common responses may be withdrawing from others, neglecting responsibilities, turning to substances to react, or nervous habits such as nail biting or pacing. You can also get racing thoughts, constantly be worried, experiencing poor judgement and have the inability to see the positive. This is very undesirable when you are a student and really need your emotional and mental wellbeing to be fitter than ever before.
No doubt modern educational life is all about meeting those deadlines, revising for that exam, and many additional frustrations such as travelling, waking up early, and fitting in social and family life, part time work, handling finances and even looking for a job after graduation. It is easy to forget about yourself and your needs when all you want to do is finish your days’ work, go to sleep and start again the following morning. We become robots and stressed out slaves to our duties.
So how do we do it exactly? How should we be #CopingWithEducation?
Let us know your defences and coping mechanisms in the comments below and for ideas on how to cope with stressful situations, head over to our social media for #CopingWithEducation inspiration.
We wish you all the best in the new academic year and pray that you will be a successor of the ummah and your knowledge will be of great benefit, Ameen.