Tuesday, March 25, 2008

College Stress

Wishing I Could Dream It All Away
By Roya Yazhari

It’s 2:59 p.m. and I have a flight to catch in a few short hours. Carrying my huge suitcase down my fifth-floor apartment will be a challenge. The bus costs 14 dollars so I might as well walk through Times Square carrying all my belongings instead of paying for a taxi.

I hope I am not late and miss my flight. What if I don’t make it on time and am forced to sleep in the airport overnight? What if my flight is delayed and I am unable to finish my midterm? I want to go back to bed! This inner monologue is the result of our loyal and caring friend, STRESS.

Going to college is stressful within itself. Add living in New York City and dealing with the crowds and hectic lifestyle while trying to balance six classes and maintain a 3.5 GPA to the mix. Yes, life does get a bit trickier. Stress can be helpful at times because it challenges us as human beings to run on a schedule and meet deadlines and goals.

If we did not feel any stress, who’s to say we would have the motivation to finish assignments on time or learn a script by the opening night of a play. Stress is positive when it is managed. However, the problems occur when it enters a person’s life in large amounts.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, although some stress reactions are part of deep and serious emotional problems, many are manageable and can be handled by a few different relaxation techniques. These include recognizing your role in stress reactions, developing a balanced life-style, learning specific relaxation techniques like yoga and meditating, gaining perspective on your problems, and clarifying your values and beliefs in order to get in touch with your inner-self.

Now, these techniques are easier said than done. However, there are many support groups and individuals that deal with stress management as a job and would be willing to help you.

Stress can come in many different forms. Some people eat a lot of food when they get stressed or overly exercise. Others loose their appetite and fall into a spiral toward depression. Many people get physical reactions like nausea, headache, and difficulty sleeping as a result of stress.

There is nothing worse than knowing you have a test at 9 a.m. and not being able to fall asleep. You are tossing and turning in your bed wishing and hoping you could pass out. You want to take a sleeping pill but fear you may miss your test. You check your alarm 10 times to make sure it is set for 7 a.m.

Stress creates these obsessive behaviors and feelings of fear and anxiety. Many take medication to manage their stress in the form of anti-anxiety pills. I am not recommending everyone medicate himself or herself. However, individuals with serious chemical imbalance do well with a simple dose of medication in order to enable them to overcome their anxiety and stress. A little stress is okay, but the minute stress is disabling your ability to do simple tasks and live a normal life, there is a serious problem.

I am a senior in college and have found myself in many situations where I thought finals week was the end of the world. A term paper seemed like hell on earth and the end of the road seemed so distant and unattainable. In this situation, what I needed to have kept in mind is that these stresses will go away. However, more stresses loom later in life in the form of children, work, and other adult responsibilities. Due to this reality, it is important to learn how to manage stress before it surfaces again.

Life is more than one bad test grade in the course of a semester. Life is more than the loud noises on the street that keep you up one night. Life is more than your parents pressuring you to do better in school.

On the contrary, life is the memories you make every day and how you learn from them. Life is love. Life is freedom. Life is truth. Life is worth living if you have something or someone to live for. Value your life, and take control of it.

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