Chronic stress is something that is familiar to us as pre-med students. However, the constant burden of piling on responsibilities and tasks can lower one’s quality of life dramatically. The fight-or-flight response, which is designed to shield us from life-threatening emergencies, can cause us to equate a low stress situation–such as taking an exam–with a life or death situation. Though our body produces cortisol as a natural response to stress, an exorbitant amount can induce both short and long term havoc on the body. Similarly, stress can cause us to feel more tired, irritable, and less energized, which can affect our relationships negatively. Additionally, chronic stress can hinder attention and focus, which can be harmful for productivity as a student.
So what are some ways we can combat the negative effects of stress? First, sleep has shown to be a protective factor against stress, so getting enough sleep can decrease our body's stress levels tremendously (Epstein, 2008). Similarly, creating routines and organization–whether this is through the implementation of to do lists, reminders, or other forms of structure–can help manage stress (Epstein, 2008). In addition, mindfulness can be a powerful tool to encourage our mind to remain in the present, hindering any uncertainty. Focusing on one thing at a time rather than letting your mind be bombarded with future tasks can give you more peace in your daily life. Mindfulness can greatly reduce the negative impact that stress has on your mind and body.
Sources: Epstein, L. J. (2008). Sleep and Mood. Sleep and Mood | Need Sleep. Retrieved May 15, 2022, from https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood
Written By: Mariam Trichas
Edited By: Dhwani Bharvad