Stress: understanding it and dealing with it

On Wednesday in WAVE at the Penquite campus, I spoke to our Year 6 to 12 students about stress, in an effort to help them understand about stress and how we can then use it to motivate us, rather than to detract from our performance and wellbeing.

In nature, stress helps things to adapt and grow. Take a small plant, a seedling, a breeze will help it grow sturdier. A tree actually needs a strong wind so that its roots will grow deeper so the tree can grow taller. The tree accepts the wind as a blessing that helps it grow. However, if we Google ‘stress’ we get a range of images that create negative connotations of stress and demonise it….as if it’s something to be avoided at all costs.

On Wednesday, we defined stress as a state of physical, mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. I note that, very importantly, we identified that stress is different from distress and that we must not confuse the two.

I commenced by discussing physical stress. Our bodies are amazing machines with multiple systems operating in wonderful harmony that all respond in a positive way to stressful situations. For example, with regular physical stress (exercise) we get fitter, stronger and healthier as we adapt our mind and body. Hence, stress becomes our friend, a positive.

In addition, part of the body’s response to exercise is the release a number of hormones that include:

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Andy Müller