One of Life’s Vexing Ordeals: Stress

Stress: A common yet vexing nemesis or enemy to living matter.

What exactly is stress though? Stress, according to the dictionary, is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” Stress is somewhat similar to or linked to depression and anxiety.

With finals coming up at AIS and this being an exceedingly common issue that still manages to go unnoticed or brushed aside as nothing by man, I figured this would be a good topic to discuss despite how many times it has been mentioned or written about before. I’ll admit to this not being an exciting, fresh, original topic with regards to what it encompasses and the basic knowledge of it all, but it certainly is an important topic.

According to several sources, teenagers or adolescents are currently the leaders in the most significantly stressed age group overall, surpassing even adults. It’s thought or believed that adults should be the most stressed out of all the age groups with their having to do the heavy or truly taxing work, such as going to job and earning money, paying taxes, etc. It’s assumed that teenagers who merely have to go to school if they have the privilege of being able to do so, with the exception of the few who work part-time jobs, shouldn’t really be all that stressed out or under as much pressure as they are under. This, however, has been disproven in recent years especially with schools cracking the whip and incorporating college lessons or workshop lessons into their High School or even Middle School classes to prepare students ahead of time and potentially have students gain the mindset of needing to memorize instead of needing to understand, which can be proven in the following excerpt from an article from NBC News, “An increased emphasis on make-or-break school testing and sharp focus as early as middle school on future college or career plans can be intense for some kids” (NBC News). Some teachers don’t always think of this or put said fact into consideration when planning their lessons that either have too much content all at once or are too fast paced or sometimes, separate lessons start piling up on the student and it becomes overwhelming despite the fact that there may be intervals between said lessons in terms of due date or actual implementation.

Why is stress, for all age groups, unhealthy or “bad” though? What short term or perhaps long term effects are there? Well, for one, individuals become less motivated or inspired and this can impact their psychological significantly. Another end result, though more common amongst individuals in their teens to adults in their twenties or thirties, is suicide, which is amongst the top three most common reason for deaths worldwide. Stress can result in heart attacks or the development of heart diseases and cancer even amongst an array of other life-threatening circumstances. Health issues, personal life, and work or school life are perhaps three of the top matters individuals are likely to stress about the most. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Not all stress is bad. All animals have a stress response, which can be life-saving in some situations” and “ In the short term, it can even boost the immune system” (NIMH). However, for the most part, the effects stress can inflict on any living matter are mostly hellish or abhorrent.

Effects of Stress Image

With regard to teenage/adolescent stress, which is the highest or most alarming of all age groups, one reason could be that the level or expectation has drastically changed or risen over the years. This is proven when Dave Forrester, a counselor at Olympia High School in Olympia, Washington said, “You have to be able to perform at a much higher level than in the past, when I was in high school” (NBC News). One of the saddening results of such high expectations or stress at school is that students no longer love to learn for the sake of learning or no longer go to school with a smile on their face or any sort of excitement. It’s becoming more and more apparent, in my school and perhaps worldwide as well, that students only care about grades and getting A’s and B’s and make such a fuss over getting a C, D, or F as if it were the end of the world. The point of school is to educate or to inspire and motivate and spread one’s interpreted knowledge of the past, present, and possible future. It’s also supposed to be a community where one can feel at home and work together with several individuals from a variety of lifestyles or upbringings, whether they be elderly or sophomoric. It is not, never has been, and never will be, in essence, about grades or how smart someone is compared to someone else like it’s turning out to be today.

Also, some schools should keep in mind the fact that their students should be accommodated or in a place where their struggles, whether they be physical or mental, can be spoken about and not kept to themselves. If physical, there should be provisions or methods for helping the student, but that does not in any way imply there be exceptions, which is often misunderstood when a point like this is made. One example of where a student was not properly or adequately accommodated was that of Jennifer Burbella, a nursing student from Misericordia University in Pennsylvania, who recently “filed a federal lawsuit against the school, claiming its staff didn’t make legally required accommodations for her psychiatric symptoms including anxiety, depression and poor concentration. As a result, Burbella says, she failed a required class twice and the school kicked her out of the program” (MTV).

There are an array of ways, believe it or not, to resolve this major, overdue/longtime issue. One plausible solution comes from Norman B. Anderson, the APA’s chief executive and senior vice president, when he stated, “In order to break this cycle of stress and unhealthy behaviors as a nation, we need to provide teens with better support and health education, at school and at home, at the community level and in their interactions with healthcare professionals” (NBC News). Whilst stress can have decent or good and not detrimental effects on one if controlled and overcame, for the most part, it is not such an easy task to do so and it doesn’t help that most stressed individuals won’t seek help.

Sources:

  1. http://www.mtv.com/news/2160713/student-failed-test-suing/
  2. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/09/22/349875448/best-to-not-sweat-the-small-stuff-because-it-could-kill-you
  3. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml
  4. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/teens-more-stressed-out-adults-survey-shows-n26921

By: Maya Abou El Nasr