Thursday, November 02, 2006

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.

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