To Stress or not to Stress

Megan Grantham

 Leonard Bernstein, an American composer and conductor, once said “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” 

I have to hope that Bernstein is correct in that sentiment. Despite my carefully planned activities and allocated times for homework and other commitments, there just never seems to be enough time to get everything done. But I like to hope that my stressful and jam-packed days will lead to great things.

I  know that my stressful and active schedule is self-induced — I sometimes ponder how in the world I accumulated so much responsibility for different courses and organizations at John Carroll in just four years — but I know that I am not alone in my busy lifestyle here at JCU. 

The people who are involved seem to be ultra-involved, taking on leadership roles in several organizations on top of school and work responsibilities.  

 I  know that for myself and the students I see around campus, stress is a big part of our lives, but this can be a good thing. Participating in organizations and diving into classwork is fulfilling, and can definitely make our college experience better. Having a healthy amount of stress is good. 

When we experience stress, it’s a healthy bodily reaction that triggers physical responses. The human body is supposed to react differently to an oncoming car than an oncoming puppy.

According to ULifeline, stress can help people succeed in completing tasks more efficiently and can help people remember things better than if they were experiencing no stress at all. Stress also helps to build up the immune system and can help people recover from illnesses faster. In one study, individuals recovered from surgery much quicker if they had experienced moderate levels of stress before their operation than those who had experienced little to no stress beforehand.

 I can see, from my own experiences as well as viewing those around me, a moderate amount of stress makes for a more fulfilling and purposeful college experience. But sometimes I have to wonder, is there a certain point when stress becomes too much and starts negatively affecting people? 

Turns out, according to CBHS Health Fund, that there is in fact such a thing as too much stress. Too much stress can weaken the immune system, cause irritability and make it difficult to concentrate on tasks. 

Unfortunately, it’s pretty tough to differentiate between good stress and bad stress. 

Sometimes we have control over whether or not we get stressed out over  something but, many times, we cannot change our circumstances to avoid a stressful situation.

I wish I could offer some fix-all advice on how to maintain healthy stress and never veer into dangerously stressful territory, but of course there is no magical solution. Taking time for yourself, drinking water and eating healthy can help to minimize bad stress, but sometimes we simply cannot avoid those trying times, like when you have two exams, a paper due and a big event for your organization all on the same day. 

Stress is a natural part of life, and every person reading this will probably feel out-of-their-minds stressed out at one point or another. We just have to hope that our stress, mixed with some good plans, will lead to great things, as Bernstein wisely foretold.