Thursday, October 25, 2007

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.

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