Beating Stress: Healthy Habits, Healthy Brains

Stress, Relapse, and Healthy Coping


Stressed. Photo courtesy of Sander van der Wel(CC ShareALike)

This presentation reports on the trend of increasing stress levels among teens, especially college students.  It examines the stress response in terms of short- and long-term impacts of responses in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, as well as through the release of cortisol.  Long-term stress can lead to potentially unhealthy coping behaviors such as overeating, risky sex, drug use, and overuse of violent gaming and television.  Healthy coping behaviors include exercise, meditation, laughing, social connectedness, and sleep.  The article is helpful to parents and practitioners seeking ways to help young people deal with stress healthy ways while avoiding long term consequences such as chemical dependency and desensitization.  

Entering college is a tough period for any young student, but especially for recovering students. The pressures of school combined with the social pressures to party can become overwhelming for many students. If students don’t face the stress head on, it can lead to unhealthy behaviors that will often lead them back to alcohol and drugs. At Bluefield, we encourage and help our students to begin healthy habits through several channels. Daily attendance of 12 step meetings and a 5 minute meditation each night help to encourage recovery and mindfulness. We also offer our students access to gyms on their respective campuses so they can begin a regular workout regimen. Once students begin these healthy habits, they can spend more time focusing on staying sober and studying and less time focusing on the stresses of life.

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