Courtney Blackann, a student at Youngstown State University, often goes for a run in order to deal with the stress of life and school.
“For whatever reason, it kind of makes my mind focus on other things,” she said. Nicole Mullins, an associate professor in the department of human performance and exercise science at YSU, said exercise is one of the best ways to deal with stressful situations.
“It helps channel the negative energy, and it metabolizes the hormones in a healthy way to get them out of the bloodstream,” she said. “Exercise is something that’s good for us. Working out and eating healthy gives us energy to handle stressful situations.”
In order to deal with the stresses of her life, Mullins said she hits the gym every day. “For me, my exercise is my way to get some ‘me time’ and just be alone with myself after dealing with people all day,” she said.
Not only does exercising serve as a way to release built-up stress and negative energy, but it also releases brain chemicals like endorphins that can instantly put someone in a good mood.
“Exercise helps to metabolize the physical reactions that are caused by stress,” Mullins said.
Stress can be caused by a variety or a combination of multiple factors. For college students, some major causes of stress are coursework, financial situations and personal relationships. These kinds of mental pressures cause the overflow of several hormones in the body.
Mullins described how the continual buildup of added stresses causes increased blood pressure. That, in turn, contributes to various cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading cause of death in the U.S. However, there are both good and bad ways to cope with stress, Mullins said.
Bad ways of coping with stress include lashing out at others, smoking cigarettes and abusing substances. These coping methods are detrimental to the individual, as well as people close to him or her.
While stress is often viewed negatively, it can actually be good for an individual, Mullins said.
“It’s what stimulates us to respond and adapt,” she said. “It encourages us to develop and grow on another level, whether that is physically or mentally.”