Thursday, November 02, 2006

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.

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