Monday, October 27, 2008

College Stress

College Is Easy, Stress Is Hard
By Elis Estrada

You want me to stay, what, longer? This is the question I pathetically repeat to my boss at my third job of the day. Forget about my exhausting day and that I still have two five page papers due; work at two out of my three jobs; classes; and the largest (at least in my mind) laundry list of things to do, all within the next 24 hours. I can’t say no, I need the money. This certifies as being stressful, right?

The overprotected and over managed members of Generation Y are experts in the field of stress. With so many things to do, so many possible options, and increasing financial worries, it is no wonder college life has become a bursting bubble of never-ending stress. According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, “The competition for grades, the need to perform, relationships, fear of AIDS, career choice, and many other aspects of the college environment cause stress.”

Everyone has stress, it is actually considered a healthy motivational tool, but stress grips college age students differently than other age groups. Students would find college easier and more fulfilling if they only had to focus on their classes. Unfortunately college is also about learning how to live in the real world, and that’s hard.

Going to college in New York City, the global Mecca of news, finance, art, and culture, causes students to think more is expected of them. I know I want to take advantage of every opportunity the city offers me; therefore, I feel obligated to do as much as I can.

Also, the city is not cheap, and just the thought of paying rent, food, and transportation can cause an anxiety attack. Finding independence comes at a price, the price of freedom. Working at school, at a retail store, as an assistant at a banking firm, and having an internship plus attending classes full time gives me limited freedom to do what I want, and that stresses me out.

As an emotional person, the mere thought of running around with no end in sight makes me exhibit emotional symptoms of stress, including and not limited to irritability, anger, fear or anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, and mood swings. Managing stress is essential; the Counseling Center at the University of Florida believes effective time management can help create a balanced lifestyle and turn stress from a sore pain into a helpful agent.

The right balance of sleep, food, and work alleviate the stress of having to do so many things at the same time. Even though a balanced diet and exercise is necessary, my stress levels decrease significantly after a good night’s rest.

Besides sleeping, finding a method of relaxation to escape the real world is beneficial. Even if you do not have time to quietly sit for 15 minutes, you can find something that eases your mind about making choices. For me, coffee, a popular legal stimulant for college students, simultaneously relaxes and energizes me to focus on the task at hand. For others, music, exercising, or even comedy can help to clarify the mind. However, there is nothing like sitting in a trendy coffeehouse, sipping a piping hot cup of coffee to reinvigorate my mind and body.

Stress is a fact of life that affects people in different ways. To become successful citizens, we choose to take on a significant amount of stress to achieve the goals that we deem worth attaining. Staying longer at work and worrying about having enough time to finish papers and hang out with friends is a choice. Hopefully, the stress that is painful in the moment will transcend into a source of pleasure after a job well done.

College Stress

I Stress, Therefore I Am (A College Student)
By Charlotte Price

You’re running late and your train decides to start making local stops. You stayed up all night writing an unfinished paper you have to turn in at noon and you have forgotten to eat both breakfast and lunch. All of sudden you sit up and your back is killing you, your head is about to explode, and you are sure your blood pressure is reaching dangerous heights. Every college student has been here.

Everyone handles these situations differently whether you’re a walker, a screamer, or one of those deep breathers. And if there is something I am sure everyone in school can agree with, it is that life would be so much better if we could just get rid of stress.

Where is that magic pill that safely whisks it away and allows us to get back to our everyday lives? I’ve searched the shelves and it just isn’t there, so unfortunately I find myself constantly stressing. You name it and I have stressed about it. I stress about being stressed. The even bigger kicker is when I stress about NOT being stressed, and who can fix that?

When I find myself in this horrible moment, when all the blood rushes to my cheeks and I am sure that life will end that very moment if I do not make some deadline, not miss some meeting, or fret about some random responsibility life has thrown my way, I can’t stop hearing my mother’s voice in the back of my head: “This is not the end of the world, and you need to get over yourself.”

As much as I love my mother I certainly hate those words of advice. However, they have always proven to ring true in the recesses of my worried mind.

At the end of the day I always manage to get everything done and the things that I can’t control, such as the train’s dispatcher deciding out of the 100 F trains running that day that mine will stop at each stop for 10 minutes, seem like vague memories at the dimming of the day. If I could just sit back in my moments of despair and realize that life’s never ending rhyme and rhythm will continue the next day and the next even if I miss a deadline, then I would have life’s biggest enemy conquered.

I have come to accept that there will be stress in my life, but over the years, especially as a college student I have found ways to fight it. The first, as I have mentioned, is to realize it’s not the end of the world. The second is treat myself, body and soul, like a healthy human being. According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, “Someone who is always feeling overwhelmed, eats poorly, and doesn't get enough sleep (a description of many students) usually has a limited ability to cope with stressful events.”

While I know as well as the next student that Top Ramen and four hours of sleep is inevitable at some point throughout a college career, it doesn’t mean that it should become a standard of living that we pursue for four straight years. In fact, it doesn’t take much to eat fruits and vegetables on a college time frame and budget. Also, if possible, I try to limit my night life adventures to the weekend and get a good amount of sleep Monday through Friday.

If all else fails of course, listen to my mother. “It’s not the end of the world. Get over yourself.”

But let’s scratch that whole get over yourself part and maybe replace it with a more empathetic response like, “take care of yourself!”