College can be a stressful experience at the best of times. After all, the steps you take in these pivotal steps will echo throughout your life, influencing your job and career prospects in the years to come. Not to mention the pressure of living on a modest budget, balancing part time work with your studies and managing your relationships with your partner, friends and family. As we prepare to face an international pandemic, the likes of which have not been seen in living memory, however, our stress levels may rise exponentially. While a stress response is perfectly natural, it can also make us more vulnerable. And we’re not just talking about coronavirus, either. There’s a reason why so many call stress the “silent killer”.
In this post we’ll look at why stress is particularly dangerous at this time and how you can protect your health.
How stress can make you more vulnerable to infections
Stress can seriously compromise immune function in a number of ways. The stress hormone cortisol can lower the number of lymphocytes your body produces and thus render your immune system less effective. When we’re stressed we also produce fewer white blood cells making our bodies less able to fight off harmful antigens.
As well as increasing our risk of everything from weight gain to cancer, chronic stress can make us more vulnerable to the international pandemic. As well as self-isolating, college students should take the following measures to reduce stress…
Meditate for 5 minutes every day
All the stresses and strains of day to day life can quickly add up and make us more susceptible to the health effects of chronic stress. Especially when we’re so utterly connected to the rest of the world via our smartphones. Mindfulness meditation, however, allows us to take a step back and slow down the pace of life. Just spend 5 minutes a day focusing on nothing but your breathing. It’s a great way to relax a reeling mind and reduce your body’s stress levels and all the inflammatory responses that come with long term stress.
Admit when you need help
Many of us self-medicate with alcohol and illicit substances when stressed. And while this is understandable, there’s a very fine line between recreational use and addiction. Addiction can exacerbate stress not to mention alienating you from your studies, your tutors and your part-time employers. Addiction In The Workplace is a serious issue for employers and employees alike. If you are worried that addiction may be an issue for you, it’s vital to get the support that you need and deserve.
Take the time to prepare nutritious meals
Students are famous for their reliance on high calorie, low nutrient takeout foods, fast food and convenience foods. However, all that sugar, sodium and salt can actually exacerbate stress levels, increase blood pressure and further compromise your immune function. Only fresh fruits and veggies contain the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that are needed to keep your immune system firing on all cylinders and keep you in good general health.
Take care of yourself in these uncertain and potentially scary times!