by Rozie Beverly
I’m sure that anyone can relate to the tremendous levels of anxiety and stress that all college students struggle with in academia. The same stress and anxiety is shared amongst all students, ranging from the students who come from families that set high expectations for their children to get nothing but outstanding grades to the students who come from families who don’t prioritize education. Recently, because of meditation I became self-awareness that all of my classes have been stressing me out. This awareness of stress allowed me to zone in on what was causing my stress. As I was researching articles about stress, I came across intriguing research that involves stress and how it affects us on the biological level.
The National Geographic documentary Stress: Portrait of a Killer hosted by Robert Sapolsky, who is a professor of neuroscience at Stanford University, is a remarkable film piece filled with enlightening information about stress. In the film, Sapolsky had made it clear that as we’ve evolved, in a sense the human stress response has saved our species. Inside an article that is presented on the PBS website, there lies a wonderful synopsis that portrays the film in a brilliant manner. “The stress response: in the beginning it saved our lives, making us run from predators and enabling us to take down prey. Today, human beings are turning on the same life-saving physical reaction to cope with 30-year mortgages, $4 a gallon gasoline, final exams, difficult bosses and even traffic jams — we can't seem to turn it off. So, we're constantly marinating in corrosive hormones triggered by the stress response”(PBS). This documentary unravels the mysteries behind how dangerous chronic stress can be on the human body.
After watching this documentary, it is clear to me that I should be taking steps toward to living a more balanced life and I desire that I will inspire others to do the same. I’m calling for a revolution in the way that we think about our bodies. We should consider to be more mindful of our bodies and to indulge in the things or activities that we love; even if that means having a date with Ben & Jerry.
If you take a second to think about the complexity of the human body on a biological level, this insight might shed light to a new perception of yourself. You never realize what you look like or what you are until you take a second to slow down and view yourself. Take a moment to snap a glimpse of your physical self, your accomplishments, your character and appreciate your cluster of energy. I encourage you to take a peak in the mirror and say “Hello” to the product of an egg and sperm uniting together. It is quite compelling that every one of us is a unique combination of DNA. If there happened to be one single strand of a DNA code missing or switched around we would possible be completely different human being.
On that note, my focus for the month of March is to reduce my stress levels, to do activities that give oxygen to my soul, and to enjoy the little things. Meditation, hikes in nature, photo shoots, hanging out with my best friends, watching videos about the universe, watching free Stanford lectures on iTunes, and long boarding are my stress relievers. What are yours?
Robert Sapolsky began his research expedition searching for baboon tribes in Africa. After observing the baboons in their natural environment, he noticed that baboons take on a hierarchy of control just as humans do. This observation triggered Sapolsky’s curiosity, and he began his research by collecting blood samples to measure the stress levels of baboons amongst the different ranks in the society. Based on Sapolsky’s findings, he found that baboons that were considered the aplha baboons had lower levels of stress than those who were considered inferior baboons. “Compared to the alpha baboons, the inferior baboons had higher levels of blood pressure, there artery walls were more damaged, and they had increased chances for cardiovascular disease. Stress can work on us in frightening ways. Stress can kill our brain cells, contribute to shrinking of the hippocampus in the brain-the part of the brain that deals with learning and memory, which will hinder our capacity to remember,” says Sapolsky. “We need to value the person who lives a balanced life, not admire the person who does 50 million things.”
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