Thursday, October 25, 2007

College Stress

I Think I Slept Last Night
By Therese Whelan

“Enjoy it while it lasts, college was the best years of my life.” This sentiment has been told to college students for years by older relatives or parents. However, for many college students today, life is not carefree and relaxing. It is stressful and they spend a good part of their “best years” just trying to get by day to day.

Tedious textbooks to read, tests every other day, 10 page papers completed at 3 am along with some leftover pizza and just as you’re dozing off your roommate barges in and wake you up. There are many reasons why college students today feel overly stressed. But by learning about what is stressing us out, we can understand how to better manage our time and maybe even have some free time to catch up on all that lost sleep.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, there are four primary causes of stress. The Environment we live in plays a big part in causing stress. New York is a loud, crowded city where people are always in a rush. Either you thrive in it or you barely survive. Your thoughts can cause stress as well. Some students feel huge pressure to do as well as they did in high school, or have negative thoughts about themselves.

In a city of almost nine million, there will always be someone smarter, prettier or happier than you. Others have physiological conditions such as illness, injury, and lack of sleep or poor nutrition. Believe it or not, greasy takeout and 40 ounces of beer can cause major stress. The last thing that is a big factor in college student’s stress is social factors. Figuring out how to make friends, trying to meet the demands of a part time job, and moving away from home are all social stressors.

Stress manifests itself in many forms. According to the Counseling Center, there are physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms that can signal you are overly stressed. Symptoms include difficulty sleeping, headaches, anxiety, mood swings, depression, forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating.

So what’s a college student to do? When there are a million things to do every week of course, stress is expected. But all that racing just to keep up leaves little time for a balanced lifestyle. It is important to try to find a balance. Throw in a piece of fruit every once and a while and drink some water, maybe skip the late late show on TV, head to the library instead of trying to concentrate in a crowded dorm room, go for a walk, lie in the park, or see a movie.

Many students have trouble with time management. Procrastination is very easy addiction to fall into, and hard to break away from. College is filled with choices and there are many ways to fill the hours in a day. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little pleasure for the relief of knowing your work is done for the day.

It helps to have someone to talk to. A friend, a relative or someone who can really understand you and help you see a new perspective, not just some peer to commiserate with. Also, there are many self-relaxation techniques you can learn to help de-stress and relax. Some people like yoga or meditation; others find that just sitting in a quiet spot for a while helps clear your head. Read a favorite book, or put on that music that makes you fell happy inside and just lie down on your bed for a few minutes.

Overall, many college students are stressed because it is a lot of work figuring out who you want to become. Teachers and parents hound you to declare a major, and many times we take classes we don’t love but put up with. Find out what makes you happy and then worry about if it will turn into a degree or a job. If you want to be a folk signer or design children’s sneakers, maybe that biology major isn’t for you.

Sure college these days can make even the most relaxed teen a sleep-deprived zombie. But stress doesn’t have to be the defining factor of your college experience. They may not be the best years of your life, but they can be pretty good ones if you can find the right balance.
S.O.S. I'm Stressed!
By Gunes Atalay

My second year in college and I am a full time student. I am in a completely different country. I have no friends, nor family. I work over 40 hours a week. It is the middle of the night. I have a huge midterm due tomorrow. God, it seems very hard. I am sure I am going to fail. I have 24 hours to do it, but I also have school all day tomorrow. I can't be home before 10, even though my last class is canceled.

Why? Because I live in Staten Island. And that is because I am broke. So in reality, I have less than 2 hours to do my midterm. By the way, I have about $34 left for next two weeks. I am ruined. Oh dear, I also have a speech due tomorrow, so I need to get some sleep tonight, somehow. It is almost 1 am now.

Why didn't my boy friend call me yet? Is he cheating on me again? I have to stop thinking about him. I have a midterm to focus on. I wonder how the weather is going to be like tomorrow. God, I hate New York. So expensive, crowded and dirty. Did I say expensive? Oh god $34 for two weeks. That equals 2 dollars 42 cents a day. Not even enough for subway. My fridge is empty too. Okay, Gunes. Concentrate. You have a midterm. But I have a horrible headache, how am I supposed to do this? Maybe I should just not do it. I am going to fail anyway.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, I am very stressed at the moment. Even though they say it is normal to be stressed in certain amounts, I know I am not feeling well. My body is aching and I am very anxious. Stressed to the point where stressing stops helping me move on, it just literally stops me from being able to act. Not fun.

The center also says there are ways to fight this stress. Developing a balanced lifestyle, gaining perspective by discussing problems, special relaxation techniques and clarifying values and developing a sense of life meaning.

I don't have time for any of these! How am I supposed to have a balanced lifestyle? It is not as easy as it sounds. How will I get good sleep when I have to work all the time and do homework in a language I don't even know well. How am I supposed to eat well when I can't stand this new culture’s food, and the restaurants serving my cultures food are so expensive?

How am I supposed to gain perspective by discussing problems? Maybe it works for other people, but it just gets me more freaked out and also it wastes time. So now, if I try to get rid of my stress and talk to someone, I will have less time to do my midterm. Doesn't work for me. Oh, and “relaxation techniques.” Maybe I am just not the right person, but meditation just makes me want to laugh and feel stupid.

Clarifying values and developing a sense of life meaning? I am 19! Who knows the meaning of life, let alone my 19 year-old teenager self? No fellas. It is not that easy. My parents always told me how school was going to be the easiest part of my life. “It is gonna get harder after school. You will feel like you would do anything to be back.” I don't think so.

It might sound irrelevant but my nose was broken twice, the first time was when I was 13. They asked me when I was 14, if it hurts a lot. I said “Hell no. It is nothing, you don't even feel it. It heals fast too.” Then I broke it again at age 15. Trust me, it hurts. I just “forgot.”

Human beings tend to forget. Imagine yourself, just before a midterm. All you want at that moment is to get it over with. You are probably completely scared, praying. Telling your friends all you want in life is to pass that midterm. Guess what? You won't even remember that midterm in a year. You will completely forget how scared you were. Did I say a year? Make it a month. Maybe even a week.

So, I suggest those guys at the Counseling Center try to go back to their college days, and go back for real. Was it that easy to get rid of stress?

You Don’t Have A Second To Waste And You’re Stressed
By Priya Joshi

The pressures placed on college students these days are far different than when our parents were growing up. The race to get that high paying job or exclusive internship is exciting, but at times the stress can become unbearable. According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, stress is a normal part of everyday life and can only be harmful when in excess amounts.

As young adults, this is an important time in our lives to be healthy and focused. The Counseling Center suggests several ways in which over-stressed college students can relieve some of the tension of their hectic lives and ways to classify what kind of stress you are feeling in order to relax you faster, such as understanding your stress factors, and gaining a perspective on your problems by discussing them.

Personally, when I am feeling stressed I first like to think about what exactly is stressing me out. I ask myself the question: where is this stress coming from? The answer can be found in your environment, social life, your thoughts or how you’re feeling psychologically. As a college student, I usually find that most of my stress comes from either my social life or my thoughts. As many students do, I often stress about balancing my social life with keeping up my grades. College is a great time to meet new people and try new things, but it is sometimes difficult to find a harmony between the social and academic.

The Counseling Center gives a variety of different ways to relieve the stress of college life. The one that I find most effective is organization. If you can organize times to do your work, relax and see friends, then you won’t be as stressed out about when you will be able to get things accomplished. Secondly, I found that discussing the issues I am stressed over helps me to cope with my problems and push through them.

The Counseling Center greatly encourages discussing your stress as a way of clarifying why you’re upset. Often times, I will think I am upset about one thing, but once I discuss the problem, I realize that it was really another aspect of my life that was bothering me. It is important to make sure that you manage your stress because it can have consequences to your health.

The Counseling Center created a list of ailments that can arise from stress that includes colds, muscle tension, high blood pressure and even ulcers. Since you already have enough going on as a college student, you don’t need to fall ill to add to your stress. Also, excessive stress does not only hurt you, but your relationships with others. If you are constantly strung out and irritable, it will affect the people around you.

The Counseling Center had good advice on how to deal with the stress that comes along with being in college. Although it may seem like you don’t have a second to waste, make sure to relax every once in a while for your health.
Stress Will Remain Even After Your Graduate
By Chris Evans

One of the most common words heard among college campuses across the nation is “stress.” It’s something experienced by virtually every person who has ever attended a college—big or small, and in many different capacities. It may be personal issues, it may be social factors, it may be schoolwork, or maybe it’s even a part time job or internship. However, everyone experiences stress to some degree throughout his or her four years of college life.

Recently I was sick and couldn’t make it to my internship at Logo, a cable television channel owned by MTV Networks. And though it was nice to have a day to sit at home watching The View and eating Oreos—it stressed me out that after two months of working there and never being late or absent once—I missed a day. And it wasn’t even something I had any control over.

Who knows how many great jobs I missed out on that were allotted to other interns, who knows how many producers were angry because I wasn’t there to finish tasks I was working on a few days prior, and who knows how many red marks that earned me on my evaluation at the end of the semester. But this is an example of something college students experience every day, and being sick is an example of a physiological stressor.

There are many different types of stressors according to the University of Florida Counseling Center—four in fact. There are environmental stressors like noise or pollution, there are physiological stressors like injuries or illnesses, there are your own thoughts, like negative self-talk or perfectionism, and there are social stressors like financial problems or losing a loved one.

Sometimes you may not even be able to recognize that you are in fact stressed. You may be too busy or stressed to notice it. But there are some obvious symptoms that may give it away. You might have physical symptoms such as muscular tension or headaches, you could have emotional symptoms like depression or anxiety, or you might have cognitive symptoms like forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating.

What I’ve found is that different things work for different people when it comes to managing stress. For some people simply meditating or taking a nap can be a stress reliever. For me, it’s usually shopping—even if for just cheap, frivolous things, watching television, or listening to music. There’s nothing like watching an old re-run of Friends to make me forget the mayhem of my 12-hour day, and unwind me for a great night’s sleep.

But there isn’t a one size fits all solution when it comes to managing stress. For some people reading or writing might be a stress reliever. For others, exercising works wonders for relieving stress. Not only because it’s a way to completely clear your mind even for just 30 minutes, but also because it releases endorphins throughout your body that make you feel great.

But don’t think that stress can only be brought on by busy workdays and loads of schoolwork. I have a close friend whose stress levels exceed mine, and she works from home, and only when she wants to. Her stress is all in her head, and she’s had to take specific measures to manage it. First, she changed her diet. She became a vegan, and gave up all meats, dairies, and fast food.

Since then she’s felt much better and usually finds herself in a better mood, and able to get to sleep at night easier. Also, she’s had to work on her state of mind. She recently started reading self-help books that help her look at things differently, and periodically seeing a therapist that is working with her to change her thinking.

Stress is difficult to deal with, and unfortunately, it doesn’t go away once you graduate from college. In fact, it may even get worse. Your career might start to take off and you will likely be starting a family soon. Let’s not forget the fact that you now have to take care of all your bills, including paying off you student loans, and can no longer depend on your parents for security and stability. But it’s all about finding ways to manage your stress that work well for you, and sticking to it.
You’re Stressed? It Could Be A Lot Worse
By Kelly Lafarga

Like any college student, I relate to that overwhelming feeling of stress. That painful feeling that there’s not enough time in the day to do everything that has to be done. That feeling that somehow ends up affecting every aspect of your life.

“It is easy to get caught up in a problem or a narrow view of something you are doing, and to lose perspective and feel that a failure or roadblock is a catastrophe,” according to the University of Florida Counseling Center.

It’s extremely important to remember that whatever is stressing you out is probably not as big a problem as you think it is in the larger scheme of things. I get so worked up with my everyday problems. As soon as I pick up a newspaper, I realize that things could be a lot worse. I read about war and poverty and suddenly my problems don’t seem so bad. However, no matter how much you try to put your life into perspective, the stressful feelings always seem to creep back up on you.

Sometimes I find it turning into a vicious never-ending cycle. First I’m stressed that I have a lot of work to do, then I wallow in those feelings and end up not doing the work, then I attempt to do the work, but I’ve already wasted so much time wallowing and I get more stressed. This has happened more times than I can remember. I know I’m not the only one that goes through this, and that always makes me feel a little bit better.

Many things play into the stress that college students have. It’s not only the workload. Most of the time the student is moving to a new city. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in a new place. They also don’t know many people. This adds a feeling of loneliness. All of these things, plus the workload factored in can only result in stress. I’m not even mentioning the students that have to work at the same time to support themselves. Sometimes teachers don’t understand and don’t take these things into consideration.

Outside issues can directly affect what kind of work you’re going to produce and therefore how much stress you might take on. Once last year everything seemed to be falling apart and I couldn’t find a way to get out of it. My father passed away in the middle of fall semester at Marymount Manhattan College. I suddenly had no drive to do any work or go to any of my classes. I felt like I should have been excused from doing all of my responsibilities.

This was not the case, however. Although teachers were understanding, I still had to get all my work done and show up to class. I sat in class and didn’t pay attention and I rarely did any work. As the semester was ending, I began to stress out immensely. All of a sudden I had tons of work to do and hardly any time. On top of that, I was still dealing with the loss of my father and maybe about a dozen other problems. Many students have their own stories to tell with feelings of outside forces that can cause excessive stress in school. It’s so easy to let your personal life affect your performance in school.

The truth is a college student who is not stressed out is rare. In fact, it’s pretty impossible to find one. What’s important to remember is that we’re all going through it and some day it will come to an end. We will have plenty of other things to worry about. The thoughts of impossible deadlines of a 10-page paper, however, will not be one of them, unless you become a writer and in that case, you’ll be getting paid for it.
Stress Haunts The Days Of Our College Lives
By Christine Levitin-Breyette

College is one of the most stressful periods in a person’s life and there isn’t much we can do to change that. Trying to complete unrealistic amounts of work in a short time while working part-time, living for four months off a $1,000 dollar meal plan in New York City, and sharing a closet-sized space with a complete stranger definitely adds a huge amount of stress to the typical college student.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, “To students currently attending college…the process is often stressful and frustrating. The competition for grades…relationships, fear of AIDS, career choice, and many other aspects of…college cause stress.”

My freshman year was the most stressful time of my entire life. I was lonely, homesick, timid of the city, unsure of my teachers and classmates, overwhelmed with the workload, and tired all the time. I wasn’t getting home cooked meals like I had for the past 18 years and was eating quite poorly, which was making me even more tired and run down.

When I got tired I fell behind in my classes, which made the entire situation more stressful than before. I’ve adjusted to college life very nicely over the years, however, in my junior year, I still get stressed and overwhelmed at times, especially because I have a job to juggle along with my school work. It’s a very stressful part of life.

Stress can originate from almost anything in the world but the Counseling Center has broken it down into four different categories. The first category is the environment. Noise, pollution, traffic and crowding, and the weather are among the factors of the environment that can cause stress. Living in New York City I find that I get very stressed out and run down from the hustle and bustle of the Manhattan streets and I have to escape every month or so for a relaxing holiday in the country.

The second category is physiological, which include illness, injuries, hormonal fluctuation, and inadequate sleep or nutrition. Often times I’ve stayed up until 3 am doing school work and then gotten up at 7 am for class, grabbing a Ritz Cracker or two to munch on the way and snacking periodically throughout the day on pickles. I know I have bad sleeping and eating habits when I’m away at school. But sleeping and eating take a backseat to completing assignments on time and getting to class early. It’s an extremely stressful time, and one can get rundown very quickly. The consequences of that are that you fall even further behind.

The third category is your own thoughts. If you think negatively or talk negatively to yourself or are just negative in general, that can affect your mood, personality, and how you respond and deal with everyday occurrences.

The fourth category is social stressors such as financial problems, work demands, social events, and losing a loved one. I can personally relate to this category because I lost a loved one last May. Even now thoughts of my lost friend float into my head while I’m trying to remain focused on school. My heart is still broken and I do get over-stressed by the situation.

Yes, college is a very stressful time in everyone’s lives, but when people look back on that period, they may rarely remember the late nights, poor eating habits, roommate troubles, or financial crunches. What they mostly remember is a magical time where they were discovering who they were and what they wanted to do. It’s was before family responsibilities, professional career choices, bills, car payments, and doctors’ appointments. They remember the freedom, and the opportunity to dream. So, despite all the stresses in one’s college existence, savor the time because it’s gone all too quickly.
Stress Has Become A Global Epidemic
By Janette Lynott

Stress is adrenaline, motivation, inspiration and emotion in and of itself. Stress can result in a triumph or a failure or it can result in a nervous breakdown along the way. If you really think about it, what kind of success would you have if there were not any stress there to build up to it?

Then again, stress can also make the failure all the worse as well. This is why I think you should bring stress into your life at the appropriate times and let it leave when you don’t need it. This statement alone is so much harder than it sounds and I cannot believe it is coming from a worrywart like me. This is why stress managements techniques came about.

Stress is literally killing people! According to a study done by the Foundation of Integrated Research in Mental Health in 2007 ; more than three out of five doctor visits [globally] are for “stress related problems”.

Stress has turned into a global epidemic. Yet, it is treatable. When I was a child, I was diagnosed with the most annoying skin allergy in the world. It is called eczema. It is not serious but it is highly nerve sensitive. Not only was I cursed with the irritating hives but it was also triggered by stress. Any time I became nervous or stressed (which was often), I broke out into huge hives that caused an itch deep into my skin. As an adult, I still have this problem but I have learned a little bit of how to handle it with stress management.

As a child, the way I handled this was counting. If I were put in a situation I could not control I would think of how long it would be until I got out of it. Once I had my estimation, I started counting backwards. If I got to one and I was still there I found myself so calm from just counting that it made the situation easier to be in. As an adult woman I still do this.

When I am in the subway and in a rush, I count from 60. When waiting for a highly anticipated call back from work I will usually take a two-minute break and count back from 120. Pacing works pretty well too. Of course, these exercises are completely circumstantial and depend on the level of stress and the person. However, they are incredibly important because stress related sicknesses and deaths are probably in the top three list of most preventative. Don’t be another statistic!

Stress in the moment however is a huge boost to your mood. It causes great adrenaline, which in itself can bring unlimited potential. Learn to control your stress. It is good for you, your health, and the people around you. Nothing can go a hundred miles an hour 24-hours a day seven days a week. Including you.
You Can Manage To Manage Your Stressful Life
Jamie Cohen

The stress levels in colleges across the country are rising. According to the American Association of Suicidology the rise of suicide among students in college is rising, so why is it that the rates are rising? Is it simply that population is rising and statistics are to follow, or is there something else that is causing the stress level to rise?

Let’s face it, today is nothing like yesterday. College is a completely different world then it was twenty years ago. According to the University of Florida Counseling Center noise, pollution, crowding are all leading reasons to why a person can become stressed, so with symptoms like these, is there any wonder as to how students these days are?

Going to school in today’s world is different because while there is much more freedom and job possibilities out there that doesn’t necessarily mean that the job will be waiting for you when you get out of school. There is also a networking factor.

More then ever we are learning that it’s not what you know but rather who you know. This puts a new factor in student’s daily lives, a social factor that wasn’t always considered an important part of college life. In the University of Washington & Jefferson College, in Washington, Pa., 90% of the pre-med majors will receive jobs, or recommendations based on the relationships that they have built with their mentoring professors.

This is just another reason for stress level, but the Counseling Center also mentions a health fear, a fear that is so much more heightened in today’s time then it was in the past. AIDS, HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases grow among the college community, a fact that most college students are aware of.

Not only do stress cause mood swings and especially irritability, but it also can create sickness and difficulty sleeping according to the Counseling Center. The problem with these symptoms is that getting sick and being irritable doesn’t mix well with doing well in school. It causes absences in class, poor studying and irresponsibility especially when goals aren’t clear. The good news is that there are ways to organize your life to make it stress free, well not completely, but definitely less-stressful.

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to keep stress away is in your diet. Proteins and carbohydrates break down in your system and give you energy and endurance, which is important for balance in your life. A healthy diet and stable diet creates stability in your body which decreases your chance of getting sick.

Besides diet, techniques such as talking out your problems or organizing your goals, and setting deadlines for your life helps plan out your life, allowing stress some time off. While stress will never be gone, there are ways to treat it, and while stress levels grow among college students in today’s society with organization in your life, you can manage to manage your life with a little less stress.