DEAR SANDRA – The Advice Column

October 30, 2002

Dear Sandra,

Help! I am so stressed out. My moods lately have been like time bombs, nobody knows how I will react to something, myself included. Reading my textbooks is next to impossible, I read a paragraph four or five times over until it finally sinks in. It’s like having my period every day of the month. What can I do to alleviate my stress?
Stressed in Saskatchewan

Dear Stressed;

There are three things for certain in life: death, taxes and stress! We need some amount of stress to keep our bodies functioning. Adrenaline is a hormone that our bodies need to run away from freaky looking people lurking in dark alleys or lift cars that have fallen on our helpless children. It was especially important to our ancestors, the cavemen, who needed to run through blinding snow storms from woolly mammoths and fight sabre-tooth tigers barehanded. Modern man leads a more sedentary life in comparison. Therefore secretion of this hormone accrues in the body and causes toxic conditions.

Stress affects us in many different ways such as irritability, sleep problems, appetite imbalances, fatigue, weakening of the immune system making you susceptible to viral infections, heart attacks or strokes, and it can aggravate existing health problems like stomach or intestinal problems. Stress is caused by both positive and negative events in your life, starting a new job can be just as stressful as getting fired from one. Keep in mind it could be more than just stress and you should talk to doctor.

How do you cope with stress? The easiest way is to simplify your life, which I know is easier said than done. If your hectic schedule is affecting your emotional and physical well-being is it worth it? As much as we all want to lead productive and fulfilling lives there comes a time when you just need to concentrate on what is really important and let unimportant things, like housework, just fall to the side.

It is possible to teach your body to deal with stress by learning to relax. Society today is obsessed with stress reducing products. Just try walking into a major department store and not being able to find numerous relaxation tapes or aromatherapy candles. You can relax in the comforts of your own home to the sounds of dolphins frolicking in the ocean while you deeply inhale the relaxing scent wafting towards you from a lavender scented candle. Just thinking about that last sentence has me relaxed already.

Finally, what I find works really good is journaling. Releasing all of your frustrations and anger, no matter how trivial or extreme they may be, into a journal saves you the embarrassment of turning into a raving lunatic later when you finally reach your breaking point. Stress seems to build up inside a lot of us not just because we take on too much, but also because we don’t express ourselves enough. If you are angry with your spouse for staying out all night or if your boss uses your pens and never returns them, just writing down how much anger or frustration you are feeling can change your whole perspective on the matter.

Most of us are so concerned with keeping up appearances that we neglect our physical and emotional well being in the process. This is not a practice life; we only get one shot at it. Life could always be worse and being thankful for what you have is more important than stressing over what you do not have.


This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of

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