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.

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