The Science of Stress

Two neurotransmitters sending a signal to each other.

Any college student will tell you that college is extremely stressful. What you won’t hear from all of them is that stress developed as an evolutionary strategy for survival. Therefore, it must be good! And according to clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis, stress is very good.

In his article “3 Ways Stress Can Help Beat Anxiety”, Michaelis stated that even though stress can be rough, it is a natural way to get rid of anxiety. But what’s the difference between these two commonly interchangeable terms? Michaelis distinguishes between them by portraying stress as a motivator and anxiety as a useless trigger of false emotional alarms.

A prime example of anxiety would be a thoughtless comment from a friend that brings on a fear of meeting his or her disapproval. Michaelis is not alone in acknowledging the necessity of stress; most scientists will tell you that it is necessary.

But what does stress actually do?

According to Michaelis, stress creates motivation and a desire to solve the problem that acts as its source, a feeling that, as Macaulay students, we find very familiar. The majority of students will tell you that they toil at their studies and have barely any time to slack off. And yet, it is this very stress that helps us reach our ambitious goals and aim for internships and “A”s. To make stress an even more positive influence on our lives, the satisfaction of accomplishing these achievements is probably what spurs us on further to take their success to the next level. That tiny feeling of stress started it all.

Stress is only one example of the many wonders of the human body. Quite honestly, every process that occurs in our bodies is beautiful, and naturally incredible.

A goal of the Macaulay Honors program is to educate students to become well-rounded individuals. Part of being well-rounded means having an appreciation for the arts. We should all take a moment of our time to appreciate ourselves as living works of art. Furthermore, we should acknowledge just how beautiful anything is in science, specifically something from Nature, which is the most beautiful thing of all. As Walt Whitman once said, “A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”

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