Dealing with stress health risks


  Imagine studying for several tests, fighting with your parents, and working a night job. These situations result in increased heart rate, difficulty sleeping, and extreme pessimism. According to WebMD, “We are not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without ill consequences.”

  Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations. The body’s heart rate increases, breath quickens and muscles tighten as it prepares for a “flight or fight” response. As a result, someone can defend themselves in high-stress situations.

  However, stress results in several health issues. Jay Winner, MD, said, “Stress doesn’t only make us feel awful emotionally. It can also exacerbate just about any health condition you can think of.”

  Emotionally, one may experience depression and anxiety as well as feelings of loneliness and agitation. Physically, stress causes a limited amount of energy, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. Sudden emotional stress can also result in a heart attack.

  John Padjen, HR counselor, said anxiety and stress impact someone’s performance, physical state, and mental health. This can impact their daily interactions, confidence level, and belief in themselves. In today’s society, social media, academics, and family issues trigger stress.

  Padjen said, “On a school wide basis, we need to address and deal with stress in the classroom and different activities in school. People need to understand that there will always be adversity in something they do.”

  According to, many situations trigger adversity. External factors like relationship difficulties and school impact someone. Similarly, internal factors such as negative self-talk and pessimism negatively impact the mind.

  Healthy decisions teacher, Shannon Wessels, said family problems and pressure are the leading causes of stress in teens. “I think it is important to find what works for you when handling stress. Everyone is different,” she said.

  In Highlands Ranch High School, many students face adversity. Katie Ellis, junior, said, “College preparation is really stressful. It definitely impacts my health; some days it is hard to be happy, because there’s so much for me to do.”

  In order to deal with health concerns, Ellis said, “Running gets my mind off things. I see the outdoors and feel good about life and where I am at.” Exercise and accomplishing tasks helps her deal with overwhelming situations.

  Another student, sophomore Ursula Morrison, said, “I feel a lot of pressure to get good grades and balance academics with extracurricular activities.” Her amount of sleep decreases with more homework.

  Considering handling the pressure, Morrison said, “I learn to balance my social life and academics with time management. Working out and listening to music help too.”

  Overall, stress occurs in everyone; it is the body’s response to any demand or threat. However, one can limit its effects through emotional awareness and a support system. Ellis said, “Stress is a very serious issue and it’s important to educate people on how to deal with it.”

Ashley Burns, Guest Reporter


Ways to relieve stress. InfographicCo: Ashley Burns