Mills Health Update

By
October 7, 2004

Mills College Weekly

Have you noticed the distinct culture of cool around campus?
It’s hip to be burnt out, overwhelmed, barely hanging on by your
fingernails. We’re so eager to talk about how much we have to do
and how little time we have to do it in. There’s a competitive edge
to our swapping of battle stories. We both may have stayed up past
3:30 a.m. every night this week cramming for midterms and finishing
those papers. But I did it while chain smoking and chugging coffee,
surrounded by a small ocean of snot filled tissues and cold
medicine. But before I can get too comfortable with my superior
bad-assness, I’m dethroned. The new queen of cool didn’t even sleep
at all Sunday night, had the flu, lost one of her papers when her
computer crashed just hours before it was due, and swore off real
food for the edgy effects of a candy, caffeine, and nicotine
diet.

Ironically, without some stress, people wouldn’t get a whole lot
done. According to the American College Health Association, the
extra burst of adrenaline that helps you finish your final paper,
win at sports, or meet any other challenge is positive stress. It’s
a short-term physiological tensing and added mental alertness that
subsides when the challenge has been met, enabling you to relax and
carry on with normal activities. Hmmm, around here stress isn’t
short term and it doesn’t seem to subside because we’ve fallen in
love with living on the edge of sanity, emotions roiling.

Negative, excessive stress is thought to be a key element in at
least half of all illness, ranging from the common cold to heart
disease. The ACHA reports that your stress level affects your
immune and nervous systems, heart function, metabolism, and hormone
levels. That leads to problems concentrating and paying attention,
frequent headaches, backaches, colds, and infections. We become
anxious and confused over unimportant events, have trouble making
decisions, and suffer from more procrastination. Sometimes we feel
persistently hostile or angry, increasingly frustrated with minor
annoyances.

I’d say eating poorly, chain smoking, chugging coffee, and
consistently crawling into bed after 4 a.m. qualifies as negative,
excessive stress. Some nights it’s the furious rush to cram several
months worth of ignored material into your head. Other nights it’s
the equally furious rush to drink and drink until the room spins.
The whole thing is twisted… oh yes, you really are the most
intense, extreme, cool one of all. You beat us out, smoked more
cigarettes, drank more coffee, slept less, and did a better job of
romanticizing it all into poetry.

I’m just suggesting it might feel better and be more fun to get
enough sleep, eat well, and calm down. After all, when you’re well
rested, well fed, and balanced out a bit many of the things it took
you all night to get through hardly take more then two or three
hours. You don’t get sick as often and when you do get sick, you
don’t stay sick for as long. The dark circles under your eyes fade
away, replaced by a sparkle in your eye and a bounce in your step.
Sometimes the coolest thing of all is to do your own thing and take
care of yourself. A little something to think about as midterms
approach.


Mills Health Update was published on October 7, 2004 in Sports & Health

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