Stress is any change in the environment that requires your body to react and adjust in response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.
Stress is a normal part of life. Many events that happen to you and around you -- and many things that you do yourself -- put stress on your body. You can experience good or bad forms of stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.
How Does Stress Affect Health?
The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive ("eustress") -- such as a getting a job promotion or being given greater responsibilities -- keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative ("distress") when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked and stress-related tension builds.
Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.
Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems. Consider the following:
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
The essays are typically the most stressful part of the college application process. (Flickr)
It’s that time of year again. Otherwise well-adjusted high school seniors melt down in stress-induced tantrums and parents hover over their desks demanding, “Is it done?”
The issue, of course, is the college application essay. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, about 750,000 students will be writing them this season, as they apply to anywhere between three and 15 school each.
This leaves students and parents asking: What makes a good essay? And what makes a bad one? Educational consultant Dave Marcus joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to offer his advice.
Interview Highlights: Dave Marcus
On the three biggest mistakes students make
“There are a lot of mistakes, but I would name three of them: 1) They take way too long to start—they warm up their engines I like to say. 2) They are really vague and we don’t get a sense of who they are. 3) A lot of kids feel they have to boast, they have to impress the admissions office—it’s not that way; it’s wrong.”
Essay topics to avoid
“When possible, avoid the D’s. The D’s are: divorce, disease, death, disabilities. The reason is that, when you think of a kid who’s lived 17 years, that often is the thing that seems like the most important event—the grandmother dies, somebody was ill in the family, somebody has a disease in the family—but it’s, often, the simpler moments that are far more interesting to go into.”
On parents writing their kids’ essays
“It’s a huge problem, but I will tell you that someone who reads a lot of essays a year and someone who talks to admissions people all the time, they can, usually, know an authentic 17-year-old’s voice. When adults write them, frankly, they sound like adults writing them and pretending to be 17-year-old’s. It’s terrible … if you are a C student in English and your SAT or ACT scores in English are bad, and all of a sudden you turn in this marvelous, philosophical essay about what the debt crisis means in Africa, somebody knows that something is going on.”