Thursday, October 25, 2007

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.

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