Healthy Habits: Chapter 1: Stress

By Riya Munot (’21)

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It’s just been a very long day and you’re on your way home from school stuck with loads of homework. You are just thinking about the three tests you have tomorrow and you have soccer practice today so you won’t even be able to study enough. Your stress level has just drastically increased just by thinking about all this. Sometimes when we have so much going on in our life, our stress levels go through the roof. If you are a student or a working parent, you always have so much on your plate and you have a lot to worry about in general which leads to high stress levels. In life, it is important to de-stress and take a couple steps back so we can ensure a healthy lifestyle for ourselves. When we are worrying about picking our children up or the next math test, we often get so caught up in the heat of the moment that we forget to refresh and clear our mind. Stress is a part of us, but in the end, too much stress can have an impact on our health. In many cases, though we may not notice it, stress can hold us back and we don’t always perform our best. Stress is out there but let’s examine some causes of stress, how to take a step back, and various destressors.

Stress comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it may be in the form of a pop-quiz, your boss assigning you a project, presenting in front of your colleagues, stress occurs in every single part of our lives. A common cause of stress is when someone feels obliged to say, “yes” when they really want to say “no”. In today’s day and age, we feel morally obligated to help every single person we can, which is great, but there’s a limit to how much we can do. For example, a colleague requests your help with their project and you say, “yes” without even thinking about your own project you have to turn in before the deadline. This just caused more stress because now you have more to worry about. Often, when we have too much on our plate or assigned too many things to do, our stress levels rise extremely high. Another big reason why many individuals get stressed out easily is because of society. Many teenagers are trying to keep up with society’s norms and are constantly stressed out because they want to be the best. Whether that be after looking at their best friends 1600 on the SAT or their brothers Harvard acceptance, students pressure to be the best they can be. Even if it means risking their happiness. But it is important to remember that you are who you are and you can’t be someone else because you are unique in your own way. Stress hits us hard everyday but it’s important to push all the negativity aside and never let anything bog you down.

Time to take a look at how to step back from stress. Let’s go back to the situation at the beginning. After thinking about all these tasks you have to complete before tomorrow you do get stressed and very fast. But stop right there. Close your eyes. Analyze your situation. Figure out a solution. And lastly, take a deep breath. I like to call this method SCAFD for stop, close, analyze, figure and deep breaths. It is an extremely helpful method and can come handy when you don’t know what else to do. Often when we close our eyes and assess the situation at hand we feel calmer. The one thing to remember though is to make sure to stay positive through the SCAFDing process. Sometimes, our minds wander into negativity and we start to think about the “What ifs”. Then it doesn’t become very easy to recover back from the negativity. The SCAFD process is extremely helpful in making sure you are able to do something. You feel more empowered in a way. Also, if it helps, say the following phrase: “I can do this. I am proud and confident individual. I believe in myself and I will do this”. Sometimes talking to ourselves reminds us that we are able individuals. SCAFDing allows you to take a step back from your stressful life and come back with a new sense of confidence.

Let’s also take a look at some destressors! If you are an extremely artistic individual, then take out your colored pencils and a coloring page and color till you feel at peace. Another great destressor is exercise. Believe it or not, exercise boosts the endorphins and lets you clear your head. So the next time you feel stressed out from a presentation, go for a quick jog around your neighborhood or even better…dance your heart out! Also, if you are a foodie or the next Masterchef, take some time to cook for yourself or the family. This lets you access your creative outlet and it helps you forget what you were actually stressed about. One thing to remember about de stressing is that you should not touch your phone. This is because when you go on your phone you may access social media which may make you think about all the stress that you were trying to get rid of. A phone can make you more stressful, in fact, scientists say that even talking on the phone can raise your blood pressure. So unplug yourself for just a few minutes and let your mind float away. Also, yoga and deep breathing have been proven as fantastic destressors. Focus your chi and atma, and if you don’t know any breathing routines or yoga, you can always search it up! And if none of these methods work for you, the best thing you can do is close your eyes and do a positive visualization and imagine yourself someplace that makes you happy where you are doing something that makes you happy. 


So the next time you’re stressing out about your speech or project, think about SCAFDing and find something to destress. You’ll be glad you did.

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