Don’t you just love homework? How about papers, projects, tests, and quizzes? I think we all know the (right) answer. As IMSA students, these tasks are a daily part of life, and there rarely passes a day without them. Altogether, they can add a lot of stress to our lives. Yet, in a sort of twisted ideology, we live for them. We live for the challenge; we did choose to attend IMSA after all. We have become so used to the mental strain of school that life would be lackluster without it. However, stress damages, and reducing it is just as important as that paper due next week. De-stressing is what allows us to keep going and, in the past, IMSA has not had enough ways to de-stress.
Too much stress can be immensely damaging to the body. From preventing sleep to weakening the immune system, stress can affect us in all dimensions. It causes headaches, stomach aches, high blood pressure, and triggers migraines. At IMSA, the struggle is always there; there’s no escaping it. At a place that promotes such a high pressure level, there needs to be frequent ways to relieve stress, and right now, IMSA has very few options.
One of the most common methods of de-stressing is laughter. Laughter relaxes the body and the mind, allowing stress to diminish, even if for a minute. It has multiple health benefits, particularly the release of endorphins, the body’s good-feeling chemicals. Alongside that, it boosts and improves both the immune and cardiovascular systems. It’s infectious and can spread to anyone, even in their saddest moments. As one of the best de-stressing agents, laughter can and should become a larger part of IMSA students’ lives. After all, laughter is the best medicine.
Another option for relieving stress is exercise. During an activity, the body releases endorphins and other chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. In effect, these chemicals improve mood and, for the time being, can change a person’s outlook on life. Regular exercise releases chemicals in the body that promote feelings of safety and security. Long distance runners, for example, experience feelings of relief or well-being during a run and after. According to some, exercise and yoga is the best way to relieve stress. Just ask one of IMSA’s wellness teachers!
In my own experience, I have found that some of the best teachers are the ones that make you laugh. They are the best at engaging students, and oftentimes, their classes are the most interesting. At IMSA, the teachers are remarkably good at engaging students in class, but outside of class is when the stress culminates. If IMSA had more activities that promoted stress relief and entertained the students, they would be widely appreciated. Things like the Hypnotist during Homecoming Week are consistently popular because they do exactly that: relieve stress.
This year, IMSA has a new avenue for de-stressing activities. The Campus Activities Board (CAB), a newly annexed division of Student Council, is designed to provide students with ways to highlight their IMSA experience. From the outdoor movie last week, to the Hypnotist in a few weeks, CAB will be able to provide activities to students of all interests. This year, CAB plans to provide events for students at least once per month. As a member of the CAB Board myself, I can assure you that we are excited for these events and that you too will be excited.
Though we consistently try to combat the mental strain that IMSA provides, we still face stress on a daily basis. It makes us sick and irritable and ends up causing stress in others’ lives as well. Though we may not realize it, stress and its side-effects have a depressing effect on those around us. In the end, living under constant pressure will not help you or your friends. It will simply undermine all that you’ve worked to achieve at IMSA, and it will ruin the relationships that you’ve worked to build. At a place that runs on such a high stress level, there need to be ways to consistently and effectively deal with stress. There need to be campus-wide activities that allow students to de-stress often. Without ways to chill out, students will continue on, stressed as always, but with them, IMSA can change from a learning laboratory to a learning and living laboratory.