Thursday, November 02, 2006

Problem: Stress - Solution: Cult
By Lianne Turner

I know that as a college student I am faced with daily pressures such as homework, my job, and constant fear of AIDS. These pressures often build up to an unbearable point that can cause all sorts of nasty symptoms such as ulcers, irritability, and even paranoid schizophrenia. When life gets me down, I turn to my friends, meditation, and of course, an organized religion.

Note sarcasm here. The University of Florida Counseling Center would like to offer you a simple set of solutions to getting over your daily stress problem. “Develop a balanced lifestyle”, “gain perspective by discussing problems”, “specific relaxation techniques”, and “clarify your values and develop a sense of life meaning” are all possibilities they offer in order to rid yourself of all the excessive stress you may be experiencing from college life. Is it just me, or is this starting to sound like a brochure for some creepy rehab center? I’m a college student, not an addict. I’ll go on.

Possible sources of stress may include: the environment, the physiological, your thoughts, and social stressors. All of which could be solved in one easy step. Just sign this declaration of your faith that says all your personal belongings are now part of the program’s assets and your problems will be gone forever. Along with your life in the outside world. The mothership will be coming to collect us all in 13 billion years.

Of course, some of the information the University of Florida Counseling Center provides is valuable. Examples of this would be things like eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, manage your time wisely, that sort of thing. All of these things could easily be solved by…an instructor, say? A 24/7 counselor perhaps? Someone who could micromanage your life for you, so you don’t have to. Bingo. Doesn’t it seem oddly convenient that, “The Counseling Center, as well as various other campus agencies, offer stress management groups,” yet “These techniques [are] easy to learn, but can be difficult to fit into your schedule”? I’ll bet this counseling center has a solution to that. Round the clock stress watch in their intensive care facility, where you have no worries at all, and are allowed to meditate as you please.

“Stress is often caused by general unhappiness and a sense of aimlessness or lack of purpose. People sometimes wind up making choices and living life styles that really don't fit them.” Here at the UFCC, we can help. We’ll tell you exactly what you want to be, and why. No decision, no problem! Join us in our quest for eternal salvation and we’ll throw in this complementary grey sweatsuit. Wear it every day.

In all seriousness, excessive stress is a problem that no college student will deny. We’ve all been plagued with multiple paper overload or procrastination regret, and the resulting consequences are usually devastating to our diets, sleep schedules, and the ears of anyone who will listen. If you’ve learned anything from the University of Florida Counseling Center and me, learn this. Do what feels right for your body and your mind, and don’t overload. If it’s too much, take a break and relax once in a while. You’ll regret it if you don’t. And you might end up joining a cult
What They Don’t Tell You About Stress
By Rayanne Mulieri

College, “an institution of higher learning”; we all know that the main objective of going to college is to receive an education that will help you make goals for your future and ultimately prepare you for a career. College also has many other definitions not stated in the dictionary, things such as partying, friends, work, and other distractions. All of these aspects of college life culminate and provide practically all college students with stress!

When you ask your parents, or friends what their college experience was like they will probably remember the fun they had, the parties they went to, and the lifelong friends they made. Rarely will they mention the homework load, crunch time during mid-terms and finals, and getting good grades while balancing their social and work schedule.

From the ages of 18 to 21 you are supposed to be having the “best time of your life”, no responsibilities of taxes, or a career. What a majority of people do not understand is that being a full-time college student is a career in itself, and can provide teens and young adults with just as much stress as those in the “working world”.

The University of Florida Counseling Center has managed to look at college from the perspective of a student and explain in depth what stress is, how it may affect students, and how stress can be handled. The Counseling Center demonstrates a good point when explaining that stress comes from not only your environment and what you do on a daily basis, but also from your inner thoughts and inner psyche. Psychological stress can be shown through mood swings, anger, and even depression.

The University of Florida states “stress is often caused by general unhappiness and a sense of aimlessness or lack of purpose. People sometimes wind up making choices and living life styles that really don't fit them. A student may be studying accounting when he or she really wants to be an artist, or he or she may have a wide circle of friends, but not really have the kind of intimate relationships that feel fulfilling.”

These statements really struck me because I, as well as most other college students feel pressured to know “what we want to be, and do with our lives” when in all honesty practically all college students have no idea how to answer that question. College went from being a time of exploration to a time in your life when you must practice your craft, bulk up your resume, and be prepared to get a job.

What can college students do when all of these decisions, and problems are going on around them? Relax! Your initial stress of schoolwork and your busy schedule may be what is fueling other forms of stress such as thinking about your future, and relationships. I know when I think about aspects of my life I currently find stressful I begin to get hyperbolic and stress out over things that cannot directly affect my life as of now.

As the Counseling Center at Florida University explains, you must “develop a balanced lifestyle, gain perspective, use relaxation techniques, and clarify your values”. Stress will never go away, it is natural and occurs within everybody’s lives, the best you can do is deal with it in a healthy fashion and never forget that some stress you have may even develop into something positive.
Generation ‘Stress’
By Carrie Spinney

Student stress is becoming a major problem these days with the youth of our generation. Parents are demanding more, school systems are demanding more, and in turn, the youths are demanding more of themselves.

The stress starts with preschool. Parents scramble to enroll their children in the most competitive program available, even at costs of $20,000+ per year, if it means better chances for their academic future. According to the New York Times, after the few children are enrolled in the program, the parents keep the children enrolled for as long as possible, sometimes waiting until the children are pushing seven to put them in kindergarten.

This is an outrage. Children at such a young age should not be concerned with competing against their fellow youth to win in the school game. It is unhealthy and could lead to awful consequences.

The older generation should begin taking some responsibility for the stress of our youths. At the same time, when the child is becoming the golden member of our society, our society is treating them like slaves.

As a nanny of many years, I have carted child after child to Spanish class on Monday, Soccer on Tuesday, Ballet on Wednesday, Math on Thursday, and Art on Friday. And then the weekend entails practicing these endeavors, and on the side, remember, the child should be a social genius.

After years of putting children through this mess, it is no wonder the University of Florida Counseling Center has began extensive studies on the issue of student stress. According to them, the competition for grades, the need to perform, relationships, career choice, and many other aspects of the college environment cause stress.

UFCC says that stress can come from many sources including their environment which includes noise, traffic and crowding, and the weather; physiological-examples include illness, injuries, hormonal fluctuations, and inadequate sleep or nutrition; their thoughts- negative self-talk, catastrophizing, and perfectionism; social stressors-examples include financial problems, work demands, social events, and losing a loved one.

These are all issues that students face on daily basis, but hardly get credit for, because the generation above them remembers school in an idyllic way, forgetting the added stress this generation faces. More students than ever are competing for the prestigious schools to get their degrees. And no longer will one degree suffice. Now it is essential for a good job that a student receives their advanced degree.

According to UFCC, the older generation should ensure that the younger generations learn to understand their role in stress situations. When they can target their stresses, they can more effectively rid them.

Students can learn to develop a balanced life-style and effective personal organization through learning specific relaxation techniques. Through these techniques, the students can gain perspective on problems by discussing them. Students should clarify their values and develop a sense of spirituality that is theirs and not their parents.

Keep in mind, not all stress is bad, but the stress that has been placed on the youth of our generation is cruel and unneeded. Over-stress can cause the physical problems of illnesses, ulcers, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and headaches; or the emotional problems of irritability, depression, anger; or the cognitive symptoms of forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating.

As a call to the older and wiser generation, please stop the bombardment of duties on our youth that might in the end, cause a major crash and ruin of a generation.
Procrastination Is The New Stress
By Emily Yetter

If you ask a college student what they like best about school, the majority of the time their response will deal with the social scene and the parties they have attended. You might get the “my classes are pretty cool” or “ I really dislike this one professor” response, but most of the time it will be about the partying and not the academics. To actually engage in a conversation about how classes are; one would have to specify the ‘academics’ aspect, not the social part. I’m not implying that every student is like this but there are a fair amount that care much more about what party they will be going to next than what will happen in their next class.

Students who are more interested in partying rather than doing their schoolwork can run into the evil situation of procrastination. Procrastination is when someone constantly puts off something that they know has to get done at some point. I feel that procrastination is the reason why most college kids are stressed out. There will always be that paper that you know you should have done when it was first assigned but instead you waited until the last possible second because things you would rather be doing kept occurring. It happens to everyone. You are carefree about having to do the paper because you know that eventually it will be written even though you might have to stay up the entire night to turn it in on time.

When you procrastinate, you are not giving yourself a lot of time to think about the topic and write several drafts before you turn it in. Procrastination does not allow you to turn in your best work, because there is no longer time to do your best work, but just mediocre work that you are happy to be done with. The stress that students experience in college will be cramped and excessive stress for a short amount of time before once again the student is carefree and back on the path of procrastination.

Procrastination to stress is an ongoing cycle. It will always become excessive when it is time to write the big paper, but then flex back out when the cramming is over. Irritability, fear or anxiety and feeling overwhelmed are just a few of the emotional symptoms that occur when stressed. These are all a result and feeling of procrastination as well.

It is my understanding that college should be a fun time where you socialize and party all the time, but there has to be a balance of school and fun. Most college students will learn this after the first semester when they wait until the last minute and become very stressed. Playing catch up on every assignment will not lead you to a healthy college experience, but a very stressed out one. It is about finding a balance in social activities and schoolwork to manage your time effectively.
You Can Learn To Control Everyday Stress
By Alee Morrison

It is completely accurate to say that students these days are loaded with so much on their plates that the idea of a stress-free life seems like a fairytale that would take place in a far-off land. Stress has become a part of our everyday lives as students.

It can be caused by numerous things that we deal with daily, from the mountainous piles of schoolwork to the competition we fight everyday with our eyes, begging them to stay opened for one more hour in order to finish a paper. From the need to keep a social status and life while managing enough time to finish the necessary work, to feeling the need for our mother’s homemade muffins in the mornings instead of the venti skim latte from Starbucks that we must have in order to begin our day in a productive state.

No matter the cause of the stress we experience, it is important to treat it in some way everyday to avoid the possibility of going insane. Studies have found that yoga provides a stress free feel to one’s day due to the relaxation and breathing exercises. Breathing is a huge part of relaxation that we unfortunately forget to take time to do. Of course, we breathe naturally in order to survive, but we must take a few minutes out of our frenzied schedules to merely suck in air deeply through our noses and exhale through our mouths. This should be done for a few minutes throughout the day as it provides the opportunity to clear our minds of anything bothersome and simply focus on the air we are breathing in and out.

By allowing thirty extra minutes in the morning before beginning a day filled with any type of work, we are able to have time that our bodies and minds need to themselves to concentrate on being who we truly are before we must deal with our everyday routines of note taking, writing papers, doing math problems, hearing lectures, or maybe even listening to our boss complain about the lack of organization at work. These extra minutes that we take out of our day can used by reading for pleasure, sitting and thinking about things unrelated to school and work, practicing yoga and reconnecting the body with the mind, or even going for a jog.

It is important to begin your morning with emphasis on yourself, your mind and your body. This is unfortunately a concept we overlook because we are too tired to wake up thirty minutes early, or we have some work to finish before rushing to class, but it is a form of relaxation for you brain as well as your muscles.

Time management is another key aspect of keeping life as stress free as possible. This is a concept that is generally learned during our college years as we are now beginning to face life in the real world. (This is quite a scary thought, being a college student myself. I enjoyed a world where my parents paid for my meals, cleaned my room, and established that my only job in high school was to make good grades. Now, I am living in a daunting place where I go to work a few times a week to pay for my meals and clean my room myself). I was used to a world where the only time management that I had to think about was getting my homework done before dance class every night.

Now I am bogged down with deadlines, a work schedule, and a social atmosphere along with every other college student my age. It is hard for us to actually find time to spend with our friends without thinking in the back of our minds how we should really be at home or in the library glued to a computer writing our seven page paper that is due in a few days. However, balance is an essential ingredient in life. If we live life focused solely on the completion of school work, then we will miss out on important parts of life that we should be experiencing as young people in our twenties. On the other hand, if we only focus on these fun and exciting times we are having, then we will fail at our schoolwork resulting in a bad and useless college experience.

The key to living a less stressful life is to remember that you are a person who exists on this planet and needs time outside and away from any type of work or anything that causes a stressful feeling in the mind or in the body. We must take time to appreciate our natural state of being and reward who we are with a few minutes of personal gratification in any form that suits one’s brain and/or body.
Stress Stinks!
By Lauren Mills

An old, redundant deodorant commercial used to exclaim, “Stress Stinks! Arrid Works!” Although I do not agree with the latter part of the statement, stress sure does stink. And when stress is present, it makes everything else in life seem stinky too.

If you are a student, you will always smell stress around exam time. Depending on how you deal with it, this is a time of all-nighters, chain smoking, pig out sessions, mental breakdowns, face breakouts, and/or hours spent in the library. I know the routine. I have been there and done that for many years now. Some years are better than others and it has nothing to do with the amount of work I have, only how I deal with it. Since I have done it all, I want to pass on to you what has worked for me so the next time you get a whiff of stress, you know what to do.

Exam season comes and everything else goes down with it. Your workload is not the only thing that is a source of your stress. According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, the environment, your thoughts, and social stressors all can lead to stress. Examples of environment triggers like “noise, pollution, traffic and crowding, and the weather,” have definitely impacted me on some of my most stressful days.

Just imagine. It is a cold and rainy Friday morning. You go to take your dog for a walk but he refuses to go outside because the size of the raindrops are larger than his head. It is pouring so hard you can not even see two feet in front of you. You, meanwhile, are dancing around the apartment, tidying up the place because your best friend from out of town is due any minute. You are overjoyed and nobody, not even the rain, can take that away from you. Take the same weather conditions on a Monday morning. You have an exam in an hour and you step outside and you throw your arms up in anger. On any other day, rain is infuriating but when stress exists, rain can be intolerable.

The University of Florida Counseling Center suggests dealing with stress by developing a balanced lifestyle, discussing your problems with friends to gain perspective, using specific techniques for relaxation, and clarifying your values. These are all great ideas. A balanced lifestyle is not only healthy, but also less stressful. “The right balance of sleep, food, exercise, work, school, and recreation is crucial. Some people are in a constant state of trying to catch up…part of this problem, for many students, is not being well organized.”

Getting the right amount of sleep and food and work and school sounds appealing to anybody, but you have to manage your time in order to do it well. By using a planner or calendar, you can divide your school work into little increments everyday to decrease the workload. This way, you can still make time everyday for your friends, exercise, and much needed sleep.

Having friends to fall back on during stressful times is a great way to cope too. But when you can not rely on a friend to lift your spirits, you need to be able to do it on your own. UFCC recommends doing relaxation techniques like sitting alone in silence and breathing. I have always been one to believe that exercise is a good way to get rid of stress. A way that I relax and clear my mind is by taking a long walk. The fresh air, the different faces and sounds are great distractions that can get your mind off of anything.

Stress stinks. And when Arrid doesn’t work, managing your time, talking to friends, and exercising will. When you can expect stress to come, take action. Prevent it. You don’t need it, nor do you need that pack of cigarettes or box of doughnuts or cluster of pimples on your chin. This all can be avoided, so don’t sweat it.
Stress Be Gone
By Alex DeGroff

The stress experienced by every college student brought on by hectic schedules and heavy workloads can be healthy, according to the University of Florida Counseling Center.

Now into my junior year of college, I understand that it is easy to fall victim to the sleepless nights. We lay in bed wondering what we forgot to do. Many have class all day, homework till bed. Some days we can’t even fit in a simple conversation here and there. Before we finish our psychology homework, we have already moved onto the biology paper, then off to work. For most, this is the five days of hell, if not six or seven.

Living like this can take its toll on every aspect of life. While attempting to be successful in every subject, it can often result in being successful in none. Little time can be put towards healthy relationships. Thinking of a future career takes priority over keeping oneself sane for the time being. We, yes, you and I, can take control of our lives again. There will still be stress. But we will understand the stress, and direct it towards bettering ourselves.

It begins with understanding where the stress is coming from. According to the UFCC, stress comes from multiple facets. Stresses caused by one’s environment include “noise, pollution, traffic, crowding, and the weather.” Physiological stresses can be attributed to, “illness, injuries, hormonal fluctuations, and inadequate sleep or nutrition.” We often create our own stress with negative self-talk, catastrophizing and perfectionism. Social stressors, such as financial problems, work demands, social events, and losing loved ones can also take its toll.

While I may have just described your life, stress also creates physical and emotional symptoms. Physical symptoms can include everything from muscular tension, colds, high blood pressure, indigestions, to ulcers, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, headaches, and backaches. Emotional symptoms include irritability, depression, anger, fear or anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, and mood swings. Forgetfulness, unwanted or repetitive thoughts and difficulty concentrating can also be attributed to stress.

OK, we have all probably diagnosed ourselves with being overstressed. Now turning that stress into something positive is the hard part. According to University of Florida Counseling Center, creating a balanced lifestyle is key. The balance needs to occur between “sleep, food, exercise, work, school, and recreation.” In order to be truly balanced, one must become organized and time management can be the tallest hurdle.

The UFCC believes that discussing your problem with friends can be key in the self-improving process. While talking to close friends it is easier to gain new perspectives in situations that once felt like catastrophes. They state that verbalizing one’s concerns can help give an individual a sense of control.

The UFCC feels that relaxation techniques are valuable tools that can help manage stress. Mediation, self-hypnosis, and deep muscle relaxation are such techniques. Just a short time of relaxation can put everything in perspective and ease the stress. For myself, playing the piano was where I took control of my anxieties.

Clarifying our values and developing a sense of meaning is the last step in the UFCC’s guide to a less stressful life. Finding a meaning to life, for me it is God, gives reason to all the hard work we put into every single day. Knowing that I have something to live for puts the stress in perspective making it easier to direct towards self-improvement.

Life doesn’t have to be the living hell that so many of us our living through. While it may not seem so, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. While taking control of our stress will result in a better college lifestyle, it will ultimately result in better and healthier lives.
New Yorkers Are Stressed Out!
By Samantha Davies

New York City is a place of high volume, constant traffic, and a never ending flow of people. For those of us who live here these elements may prove to be, at times, overwhelming. After reading the stress report from the University of Florida’s Counseling Center, it occurred to this New Yorker that our environment is the cause for much of the stress seen in New York’s citizens.

The other day I forced myself to wake up at eight a.m., write a paper, get to class, and then make it to work on time. Unfortunately, I only had thirty minutes to get from 71st to Spring Street and it was the height of rush hour. I walked out of the school and of course there was not a single cab in sight. It is safe to say, I was completely stressed. Internally, I was freaking out, and externally I was taking it out on the New Yorkers around me. I found myself shoving people and walking with muscular tension.

New York is the capital of the world, but it is also proving to be the world capital of stress. We live in an environment of “pollution”, “traffic”, “crowding,” “noise” and inclement weather. All of which, according to the University of Florida counseling center are the sources of stress caused by the environment in which one lives.

Most of America lives in suburban environments, where they do not have to deal with a daily fight for a cab or traveling in an confined underground tube of transportation. In movies, New Yorkers are portrayed as mean, irritable, and angered citizens. According to the University of Flordia’s counseling center, these are also emotional symptoms of stress. But how can New Yorker’s avoid being constantly stressed? I mean, we live in a place that exemplifies almost all of the counseling center’s distinguished primary sources of stress. It is no wonder most people walk around with mean faces...We’re stressed out.

Walking down the street where you only see frowns, most likely can cause stress as well. Professor Zucker of Marymount Manhattan College, once said that after 9/11, New York was the best place to live. Everyone was so friendly, and it was because we all shared a collective feeling. We all shared a common understanding. Well, it is time that we share an understanding of why the man walking next to us is sending out anger and irritable vibes.

There are many ways for us to manage our stress. The counseling center writes, to “spend a short period of time in a state of profound relaxation,” will reduce stress. New Yorkers are always in a constant state of trying to catch up. So the question remains when do we have this “profound” time? The center says that 15 minutes of silence will lessen your stress. So the next time your standing on the sardine packed 6 train, take the time to read the poetry in motion ads on the wall. Or simply sit in your seat, close your eyes and reduce your stress.
College: The Best Time Of Our Lives?
By Bianca Busketta

Stress- Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. This should be the new motto for every college student of this generation. While predecessors have talked of college as a fun and carefree atmosphere filled with parties and campuses, the new generation of college student is dealing more with stress. Most college students are trying to afford to pay for expensive college tuition on their own, dealing with the AIDS epidemic, lack of well paying jobs, and soaring prices of textbooks and food. We are also scrounging to afford their party lifestyle, along with gaining a degree. All this responsibility thrown at a student at once is what is leading to excessive amounts of stress. So, while we are still proclaiming these are the best years of our lives, let’s look at the harm this stressful lifestyle is doing.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, excessive amounts of stress can lead to physical, emotional, and cognitive side effects. These symptoms include some of the following: muscular tension, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and forgetfulness. This is only to name a few. The UFCC says not to fear and that there are ways to balance out levels of stress. Balancing levels of sleep, exercise, food, work, school, and recreation is what a college student needs to lead a healthy life without these possible side effects.

When I think about these words of wisdom, is it really possible to balance all of these options in our lives? May be it’s the excessive amounts of stress that keep us going, our hearts beating fast, and allows us to get all our responsibilities plus more out of the way. In all honesty, a college student cannot balance all of these things without feeling overwhelmed. And with our lifestyles, maybe stress is integrated with having the time of our lives in college. We as college students should have an unbalanced lifestyle with stress for as long as we can before we have to settle down with a job and a family.

When I think of a college student being told to get a balanced, good night’s sleep it makes me laugh. Think of a situation in this context - would you rather hang out with friends until four in the morning to wakeup for a 10 a.m. class the next day? Or go to bed early to balance out your stress level? I’m sure most would pick the first option. It may be lead to more stress with waking up early, but I would take stress over missed college memories.

College life is an excuse to lead unbalanced lives. It is a way to learn to be the biggest procrastinators in the world, or to stay up studying until 6 a.m. for an exam at 7. It is our last chance for rebellion before we have to become adults. If I had to choose between dealing a stressful life, or leading a boring “balanced” existence my answer would be to bring on the ulcers, indigestion, and forgetfulness. Anyways, this is the time of our lives.
Stressing Over Your Goals And Aspirations
By Michelle Bonarrigo

No doubt college life is bound to be stressful at some point. Papers and other homework will seem very tedious at times. College is not only a time of learning factual material and becoming booksmart, but a time to figure out who you are, what you want to become, what you value and who you should surround yourself with. Perhaps you dream of attaching the title doctor, officer or CEO to your name. With these aspirations comes a series of deadlines and classes that may have nothing to do with your goal. A student may wonder why they have to write a 12-page paper on marine life when their college major is criminal justice.

College is also expensive and requires students to work throughout their semester in order to pay off loans. In this situation, a student must balance their school life, homework life, work life and social life. As I pondered over what college has brought to my own life, I remembered a very humorous and pessimistic saying that a good friend of mine, a college graduate , quotes to me when I stress out over school, “C’s get degrees”.

As I laughed over this I realized that it is very true but also sad because when I graduate from college and attempt to find a job, I highly doubt an employer will hire a person they feel is just simply average. So much of getting a job these days is because of personality, past experience with certain jobs and special skills. You do not have to put on a job application that you failed a midterm in college.

The feeling of stress comes from feeling overwhelmed with pleasing others. When a student finds his or her drive in life, the reason this person feels they exist, life for them is set. Life without purpose causes stress and feelings of recklessness. Some find their purpose sooner than others, while some don’t have time to do such soul searching and end up in a career they only got into because they feel that the career path is practical rather than meaningful to them. Students must take classes that will broaden their horizons and expand their thoughts on life and what their life means to them. College is the opportunity to learn and grow and mold yourself into something beautiful and meaningful.