Feeling some pressure

By Carly Radist

s she fishes through her bag to find her iPod, she grabs her keys and pulls her hair into a low ponytail. She bends down to tie the bunny ear loops of her running shoes tighter and proceeds towards the front door. Exiting her house, Molly Goodman ’09 pulls her gray sweatshirt over head and it hangs loosely over her frame. She gets in the car and begins to drive to her destination; the running course at Balboa Park.

When she arrives, Goodman unravels the coils of the headphone wire and places each ear bud into her ears. She shuffles through her music and finally decides to begin her run to the beat of Kanye West’s “Homecoming”. She inhales deeply and begins to jog, slowly building up a faster pace, her arms mimicking the motions of her legs. Goodman begins to forget about the chilly weather, her heart rate rising as her body warms up. Her shoes slap the mud as she moves forward, allowing nothing to break her concentration.

Goodman says that as she runs she focuses on everything but what is causing her stress. In order to relieve her daily stress, she exercises to relieve tension. She runs about twice a week, usually around three and half miles. In addition, three times a week she trains with a personal trainer at a specially designed gym for athletes. Although she does mostly field hockey related exercises for strengthening and conditioning, it also relieves her stress, she said.

“While working out, I focus on just working out and pushing myself,” she said. “I focus on getting a better record or running faster, doing my best at the moment, all in order to not think about what is bothering me.”

Usually around the end of the first lap, Goodman begins to feel her head clear and her stress lighten. Goodman enjoys running because getting away from everything and everyone allows her to relieve her stress in a healthy manor, she said.

“Exercise is one of the top [healthiest ways to relieve stress], as you make your own endorphins from aerobic exercise and just generally feel better,” school Psychologist Dr. Sheila Siegel said. “Eating chocolate also makes endorphins.”

Endorphin stands for endogenous morphine-like substances that are produced during strenuous exercise, Siegel said. They are essentially antidepressants the body creates. Exercising aerobically for at least 20 minutes allows the endorphins to kick in and function properly in the body.

Stress can arise from a number of different factors, Siegel said. Students at rigorous schools take on extra work and activities which creates stress. Pressure from parents to do well and comparing oneself to other students who are also very bright can induce high levels of stress. The combination of the two, including stress from teachers who have high expectations and self-imposed pressure, creates a high stress atmosphere, she said.

Like Goodman, Michael Lee ’09 feels that exercising relieves his built-up stress. As a senior, Lee’s experience with the college process creates extra pressure in his life. As well, the waiting game and his looming final decision add stress to his already busy life, he said.

“I feel like working out is just a way to take your mind off your problems and kind of escape from reality a little bit,” he said. “With school, the college process, and everything else going on, it can get stressful and that change of scenery is sometimes just what I need.”

Working out about five times a week helps Lee reduce his stress levels, allocating each day of the week to target a specific muscle group.

“Every workout is satisfying, and it feels good to be doing something active. Even though it’s sometimes tough on the body, I look forward to working out the next day.”