“Learning When To Say No” by Tatiana Herman
Countless studies have been conducted linking stress and illness. When these studies first began, and even now, skeptics state that illness is purely physical and is not affected by a psychological aspect of life. However, researchers have found that stress lowers our body’s defenses and this leaves us more susceptible to an illness that may come along. So stress indirectly influences physical health by way of weakening the immune system and leaving us vulnerable.
My sophomore year at BYU is the most stressful time I’ve had in my life. I was going to school full-time and still adapting to the demands of a university education (as opposed to high school), was working 25-30 hours a week to pay for that education, working on establishing my own business so I could quit my inflexible job and work more easily around my classes, was stressed about finances, was going through some family issues, trying to magnify my callings in the church, and attempting to have some sort of a social life. On top of this I was a member of the Ballroom Dance Company, and competing privately to keep up with my peers on the team. This came to roughly 25 hours of rigorous dancing a week.
I was learning to manage my time but hadn’t quite mastered this ability when my body decided to shut down. I had been diagnosed with mono in high school and was told at that point that as long as I didn’t become overly stressed, it wouldn’t be a problem after my initial bout. However, because I was trying to do so much and was wearing myself out mentally and emotionally, I stopped functioning physically. I didn’t even have the energy to go to lunch with a close friend I hadn’t seen in over a year. All because I felt like I had to take advantage of every opportunity that came my way. This is a prime example for me that the cognitive and emotional aspects of life definitely have a strong influence over the physical, and taught me the importance of balance and stress management. Fortunately I was able to heal when I re-prioritized my activities and allowed myself time to relax and receive sufficient rest.