The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Coping with stress easier than getting rid of it


As the end of the semester approaches, with the holiday season in full swing and final exams lurking just a week away, students may find themselves with increased stress levels.

Junior Amanda Baxter said when she feels stressed she generally doesn’t eat or sleep well.

She said she also gets caffeine headaches because she drinks more coffee when she’s busy.

“I drink a lot of caffeine because it’s my way to feel like I’m getting things done,” she said.

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Doctor Brett McDonough of Stucky Chiropractic, 2105 E. Clairemont Ave., said stress cannot fully be alleviated because it will always be present during life.

“No one is ever going to get rid of stress,” he said. “You have take your tests whether you want to or not.” But stress can be managed effectively and reduced, he said.

Stress can be felt on a physical, mental and spiritual level, McDonough said. No matter what type of stress a person is experiencing, the body physically responds by changing the hormone levels in the body. Changes in hormones such as insulin, cortisone, testosterone, estrogen or adrenaline can be damaging to the body if it is exposed to these changes long term, he said. Of the different types of stress, mental stress seems to produce these changes the fastest, McDonough said.

But, he cautioned, students should not focus on eliminating stress, but rather on coping with it.

Nursing professor Susan Moch, who teaches the Mind, Body, Spirit Wellness course, said although alternative methods such as acupressure or acupuncture are effective for relieving stress, students should relax in the way that works best for them personally.

“You should think about what was successful for you in the past,” she said.

This could include watching a limited amount of TV, listening to music, exercising or even calling and talking with a close friend or family member.

Baxter, who took Mind, Body, Spirit Wellness, said one of the ideas she learned was the importance of planning ahead for projects or potential stressors and being proactive about keeping potential stress minimalized.

Baxter said she was able to apply what she learned in the class while she was taking it, but has since drifted back into her old methods.

“I put things off to the last minute, which can be bad,” she said.

Moch said it is important to cope with stress in a way that works best with the individual because starting a new method or technique may actually create another stressor.

“It’s important to remind students to (use) their own (method of) coping,” she said.

Students interested in alternative coping techniques, such as meditation, should begin using them during a less stressful time, such as the beginning of the semester, so they can become comfortable with the technique, Moch said.

McDonough said he teaches his patients five keys to keeping the body healthy, which will ultimately keep stress levels manageable. The focus of the five keys is to put good things into your body.

“If you don’t put the good things in your body it’s like putting bad gas in your car; it doesn’t run as well . the same goes for your body,” he said.

The first key he emphasizes is getting enough rest. Sleep gives the body time to repair itself, he said. Sleep deprivation can tamper with hormone levels in the body and produce physical stress.

Another key is nutrition. McDonough suggested limiting caffeine, alcohol and processed sugars because they all can affect hormone levels and cause physical stress.

The third key is getting exercise. Exercising changes hormone levels in the body in a positive way, McDonough said.

“When you’re up and moving more good input gets put in the brain,” he said. This can lower stress.

The fourth key is having a positive mental attitude.

“This gets hard for people because we constantly get bombarded with negative, negative, negative,” he said.

McDonough suggests people take time for themselves for personal affirmation.

“You’ve got to feed your mind like you feed your body,” he said.

Finally, McDonough teaches people the importance of maintaining a healthy spine and nervous system. Tension in the body can create stress. Chiropractic adjustments can remove tension.

One way students can relieve tension in the body without going to a chiropractor is through acupressure. Acupressure is an Asian art form where someone applies pressure with either their fingers or other hard objects to key points on the body. The pressure applied releases tension in the area and relieves stress, according to the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, Calif., Web site.

Pushing on the indent in between the bridge of the nose and the forehead relieves tension headaches and eyestrain. Applying pressure to the base of the skull along the two vertical neck muscles can alleviate neck pain.

McDonough said removing physical pressure provides mental relief.

“When tension is removed from the body it is removed from the mind,” he said. “That’s why we adjust people.”

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