Monday, March 30, 2009

College Stress

Are You Stressed, Really?
By Adriana Lorenzo

It’s rumored to cause the growth of grey hairs. It can lead to migraines, backaches, overeating and under eating. As a society we have given the six-letter word, stress, way too much power. There are even ridiculous variations of the word to more specifically diagnose our feelings. We can be in distress, have hyper-stress or even chronic stress.

The word has become such a major part of our vocabulary that I question if we even truly know how it feels to be stressed.

I woke up this morning immediately feeling stressed. I had overslept a bit and needed to take the Roosevelt Island red bus, then the tram, and then a bus up Second Avenue to get to my internship by 9 a.m. I knew I would be working extremely hard all day, only to get home and work on homework for school.

I was sent out on an errand in Queens at the end of my day, and unfortunately had chosen to wear the wrong shoes that were very uncomfortable. As my feet throbbed and I hobbled back to work, I kept thinking, “what a stressful day!”

As I think back on my day now, I realize how non-stressful my stress actually was. I am fortunate enough to have a job and the opportunity to pursue an education. Yes, I was wearing shoes that made my feet feel like they had knives in them, but I had shoes on my feet didn’t I? As a society facing huge issues like a recession and a change in power, we are claiming to stress over the most absurd things.

Flights are delayed 30 minutes and we are seen huffing and puffing, calling our relatives or friends to complain. Is the ability to sit in a chair and fly not enough of a magnificent invention to wait 30 minute for? An Internet page does not load immediately in three seconds and we slam our fists on our desks. The guys or girls we are dating don’t return our calls and we feel our lives are over. The barista at Starbucks hands us the wrong coffee and we feel our whole day is starting off wrong.

We have become so used to instant gratification that I think we are in fact just lazy or impatient most of the time instead of stressed. If we do not get what we want, when we want it, we feel stressed.

There is evidence everywhere that stress is contagious. If a friend rants to us about their stressful day, we feel the need to reciprocate and state all the “traumatic” occurrences of our day. We seem to always want to one-up each other with our workload, our school loads, and even our laundry loads.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, the way we stress may have an impact on our relationships with others. Stress is so negative, so why are we always talking about it and giving it such importance?

Don’t get me wrong. I realize there are major issues everywhere that are definitely stress-worthy. I feel we need to redefine what exactly stress is and what is stressful. Losing jobs, a lengthy war, a sick child or bills that are piling up all are definitely worthy of the six-letter word.

As the title of the popular book implies, we need to stop sweating the small stuff. Once we do, the word stress will seem so far off and distant we won’t even remember the last time we felt it.

Now isn’t that relaxing?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

College Stress

Are You Too Stressed To Read This Article?
By Holly Dougherty

It’s 4 a.m. You are in the computer lab of your college campus. The computer won’t recognize your junk drive with your annotated bibliography. The only thing showing up is a jumbled collection of boxes and asterisks and slashes.

Your 25-page paper on the history of Mao Zedong and communists China is due at 8 a.m. Just remember, college is the best time of your life.

Sometimes parents and teachers forget how stressful college actually is. If schoolwork isn’t enough, your late teens and early 20s are confusing and awkward times in your life. (We have all been there. None of us can deny it.) Stresses of work, debt, family, relationships, social pressures and numerous other pressures mount into an uncontrollable load for young adults.

The University of Florida Counseling Center sites four main sources of stress: 1. The Environment (noise, pollution, traffic and crowding, and the weather) 2. Physiological (illness, injuries, hormonal fluctuations and inadequate sleep or nutrition.) 3. Your Thoughts (the way you think affects how you respond. Negative self-talk, catastrophizing, and perfectionism all contribute to increased stress.) 4. Social Stressors (financial problems, work demands, social events, and losing a loved one).

One may not actually realized that they are stressed but there are many physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms that one should look for as outlined by the UFCC. Physical symptoms include muscular tension, high blood pressure, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, backaches, headaches, and indigestions.

Emotional symptoms can range from irritability to depression to anxiety and mood swings. Cognitive symptoms include forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and unwanted or repetitive thoughts.

However, fret not you double-major student activity presidents. There is hope. The UFCC lists four ways in order to lower your stress level to a manageable level. First, develop a balanced life style. Don’t take five-hour energy shots and pig out on pizza and French fries the night before a final.

Small study sessions throughout the week, a regulated healthy diet, and a good night’s sleep will be sure to afford you the grade you desire without making you look like a bloated wreck.

Gain perspective by discussing problems also known as vent to a friend! Your roommate is in the same boat as you are so take an hour, veg out, have a snack and vent! You will feel better and energized and ready to get back to work!

There are specific relaxation techniques that you can use to rid yourself of stress. Most include deep muscle relaxation and clearing your mind of clutter for a short period of time. It gives you a moment of clarity in your crazy life.

Finally, and probably the most important, clarify your values and develop a sense of life meaning. What’s more important? A Friday night frat party or making sure you get enough sleep over the weekend for your 8 a.m. major final on Monday morning?

Doing things that make you feel good like exercising, volunteering, practicing your religion, and reading for pleasure, are all things that one can do that relieve stress and are good for you.

You may be too stressed to even read this article. But if you did I can guarantee that if you look for the symptoms of stress and practice ways to declutter your life and mind you will see results in no time. So calm down. Relax. Take a load off. In other words, don’t stress.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

College Stress

Stress Is Best
By Gabriella Calabro

New York is often referred to as a city full of “hustle and bustle and people are always on the go and trying to get to their destinations as fast as possible. Most New Yorkers would probably claim to have a stressful lifestyle, but what would they do if they didn’t? Would New Yorkers know what to do if they could leisurely walk to work in the morning, sit down and savor their morning coffee and thoroughly read the paper? Probably not. Stress is one of the main factors behind the city’s appeal, and it’s certainly a main factor in my life.

Sleeping your college years away may be less stressful, but completely

Sleeping until 10:00 am and having Fridays off used to be a top college priority of mine, but now as school and work get more demanding, I realize that every moment is precious and cannot be wasted sitting around doing nothing. Other students I know take a much more lax approach to their college years.

A typical Tuesday for me this semester consists of waking up at 8:00 a.m. and going to the Resident Advisor office in my residence hall to file all the programming information for our building. Between 9:45 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. I go upstairs to get ready for class, and need to be waiting for the elevator by 10:55. When 2:20 rolls around I have already completed two classes, grabbed a quick lunch, and made my way over to one of New York City’s top private elementary schools.

There I pick up a fourth grade girl, and the day has just begun -- from homework and low-glycemic snacks, to play dates, and swimming class, back home to finish homework, make and eat dinner and clean up afterwards. Once one of girl’s parents rolls in around 7:30 p.m., I find myself speed-walking or taking a taxi to the residence hall where I could be on duty from as early as 8:30 p.m. to as late as 12:30 a.m. Although there are days where I don’t get to eat dinner until 9:30 p.m., or go without seeing my boyfriend, I honestly do not think I would be happier if my life were any less busy.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center (UFCC), “Much of the stress that we all experience is helpful and stimulating. The challenges of life tend to be stressful and an attempt to avoid stress completely would lead to a rather boring existence.”

A friend of mine has managed to design herself a pretty “stress free” semester. Taking mostly three hour classes, the earliest she ever has to be up is 1:30 p.m., after making her schedule she researched the classes and purposely stayed in ones with the least amount of homework and tests.

She has no pressure to wake up, go to class, and even though she has a job, she often finds people to take her shifts and has spent the majority of her semester in bed either sleeping or watching YouTube -- sounds pretty boring to me. I, on the other hand, have been out and about in the gorgeous city of New York meeting all different kinds of people and doing wonderful hands-on assignments for classes for my majors, English and Communication Arts, as well as my photography minor.

So what is lying in bed teaching her? How is this preparing her for “the real world,” as college usually claims to do? Why is she wasting all this money to attend such an expensive New York City college if she could sleep at a community college? If she’s falling into these habits in her early 20s, what will make her snap out of them in a year or two?

Without stress there would be no pressure or motivation to do anything, and everyone would just end up sleeping all day. There is no “right way” to spend your college years, but I certainly live by the “work now, play later” mentality. Why not get as much done as I can now and learn as much as possible while I’m still young and energized?

Living a stressful life now can only have a positive outcome -- I’ll either be so used to the stress I won’t notice how stressful adulthood is and will be able to handle it with ease, or my hard work will pay off and I’ll be living in the lap of luxury without a care in the world!

Either way I’ll probably be happier and more productive than the girl sleeping her college life away!

College Stress

Loving Stress
By Thomas Ford

I always hear of my friends and classmates complaining about stress. They’re stressed about homework. They’re stressed about boyfriends and girlfriends. They’re stressed about just about anything and everything that interferes with what they want to do. And all I want to do is tell them to wake up.

I think that we, as a generation, tend to forget that a lot of times what we want to do cannot always be our first priority. We have to complete all of the grunt work, all of the things we don’t want to do but need to do, in order to prepare ourselves for what we ultimately want to accomplish.

I think I have to thank my love for dance and life as a dancer for that very discipline it has instilled in me. Never did I ever imagine that I would be doing commercials for FOX and UPN, performing at the Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center, touring the country or becoming Rihanna’s choreographer’s demonstrator, when I was sitting in a dance studio sweaty and exhausted.

Sure, it was stressful. I was dancing close to fifty hours a week, in Honors and AP classes, a board member of several clubs, and teaching and choreographing dance on top of all of that. But the fact that I loved it more than anything else is what helped me to get through it and what reassured me that there was light at the end of the tunnel as long as I strived for it.

That may be the key to dealing with stress: finding something you love and sticking to it. Though it is impossible to eradicate stress from one’s life completely, and according to the University of Florida Counseling Center, some stress is good and stimulating, I think when stress is involved with something we love to do, we don’t look at it in a negative light. We look at it as progress. We look at it as something we must do to get what we want. We look at it as what is going to make us the best at what we want to be.

I did not mind putting so much of my life in to what I loved to do because I knew that it was what made me happy. You begin to appreciate the amount of work you are putting into whatever you love to do because you realize that it is only going to make you better in the long haul.

My advice in a nutshell: do what you love. The University of Florida Counseling Center says, “A student may be studying accounting when he or she really wants to be an artist,” and attributes stress to one’s negligence in pursuing his or her true love.

Now, doing what you love may not necessarily be any less stressful than doing what you hate. It’ll be more work because you’ll push yourself that much more to be successful. But, your love for that activity or art or career will be more stimulating than anything else could possibly be during times of severe stress.

College Stress

The Campus Is Your Bubble. Not!
Attending college in New York City has its own additional stress factors

By Alexandra Gardell

It is a popular belief that college is supposed to be the time of one’s life. Parties, dorm life, mornings that start at the crack of 11 a.m. College students are often considered to have limited responsibilities; generally there are no bills to pay, no full time jobs to worry about, no children to raise.

Just the task of waking up, making an appearance at class, the occasional term paper to write or exam to study for. Tuition, meal plan, and room and board are typically taken care of at the beginning of the semester, not to be worried about until the next round.

The majority of my friends are living this stereotypical college experience, where the campus is your bubble. And although this may be reality for some, it is far from the truth for many, me included.

Attending college in Manhattan is a unique experience; there are countless opportunities to take part in internships, careers, and social activities that are not usually available to students in other parts of the country.

I know in my own experience as a young person attending Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, I have a full-time job, a full-time school schedule, and a part time job that I commute to out-of-state. I also have family, friend, and volunteerism commitments to tend to daily.

Marymount is known to use the tagline, “the city is your campus,” when recruiting new students, but I often find it difficult to find time to actually enjoy living in the city with such a hectic schedule and a vast array of commitments. Having so many opportunities and obligations makes it easy to bite off more than you can chew and to become overwhelmed.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center (UFCC), there are four main sources of stress: The environment, physiological, your thoughts, and social stressors. The negative results of stress show up as physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms. Students at Marymount and other institutions can relate to the issues that cause these negative feelings.

Specifically speaking about students attending college in New York City, there are unavoidable environmental stressors, including crowding, public transportation hassles, and a general sense of urgency in the air. Power walking through masses of people to catch the subway as you race from your full-time job to your night class is an experience unique to living in a large and fast- paced city.

Physiological stressors, which the UFCC describes as “illness, injuries, hormonal fluctuations, and inadequate sleep or nutrition,” seem to be synonymous with college life. Young people are notorious for their poor eating and sleeping habits, which are often the cause of bad health and affects their ever changing hormones.

The collegiate lifestyle does not help alleviate these symptoms, but rather enables them. Long nights, busy days, lack of funds and time for healthy meals help send students into downward health spirals.

It’s easy to freak out when students have to worry about things like holding onto scholarships and keeping grade point averages up. Students who do not live up to high standards set by themselves or others may tell themselves that they are not good enough or smart enough, which can cause unhealthy self-images, depression, and stress. None of which are good for mental stability and health.

Social stressors, like money issues, deadlines, and relationships are also high on the list for causes of student stress. For example, many students at Marymount live in apartments. Although this sounds glamorous, it also means that there are multiple bills to pay each month, including rent, utilities, and other services like cable and the Internet.

Normally it also means living with roommates, which in itself can lead to stress over issues such as cleaning, guests, personality clashes, and other power struggles. Costs associated with living in Manhattan are high, and in general, student incomes are low, so there is a constant feeling of anxiety about how to make ends meet.

The UFCC suggests that balance is key to a healthy and happy life. Stress in small increments keeps students on their toes. Having short-term goals, such as deadlines for papers, helps one stay focused. Too much stress, on the other hand, can be detrimental. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you are trying to juggle multiple responsibilities and wear many hats.

Students also need to schedule some “me-time” for themselves. The UFCC suggests regular exercise, meditating, and sharing one’s feelings with loved ones as examples of how to achieve a relaxed mind and body.

Even though I often feel swamped, I do not mind having a non-stop, jam-packed schedule. I actually believe in a way that once I enter what some refer to as the real world or life after college, I will lighten up.

My thinking is that school will be one less thing on my plate, as I am already accustomed to working, taking care of my own finances, and dealing with my own housing situation.

I suppose this is not the typical response to thinking about life after graduation, but hey, going to college in New York City is not the typical college experience either.

College Stress

Combating Stress With TV And A Heating Pad
By Heather Bates

It's midterms week. I am sitting on my bed in my Upper East Side apartment, located in Manhattan near my liberal arts college. Today, I made a list of things to do. I figured if I wrote it all down, I would feel less overwhelmed by the several assignments looming on my busy horizon.

However, instead of getting my work done, I am laying on a heating pad and watching "Wife Swap" on Lifetime. My back aches. I got little to no sleep last night, and it is 7:00 pm and I still have yet to eat a single thing for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Stress if not an unfamiliar topic to me.

Sure, living in Manhattan at the young age of 19 has its perks. When I recall the events of my day to a friend or relative, they overlook my heavy work load by reminding me continuously of how lucky I am to live here. Most days, I would have to say that I disagree.

College life in New York City is not all it's cracked up to be. I attend school full-time and work hard to keep my scholarships. I work in a busy retail environment where I am constantly on my feet. I have a pile of laundry, a messy apartment, neglected friends and family, unfiled taxes, forgotten homework, and a serious boyfriend. No wonder my back hurts.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, there are four primary sources of stress: environmental, physiological, our thoughts, and social stressors. Developing a balanced lifestyle by maintaining a sleep schedule and a healthy diet is a sure way to eliminate unnecessary stress. If students can adjust their schedules and find time to focus on their own well-being, the load of stress will begin to lighten.

The counseling center commented: "Some people are in a constant state of trying to catch up. They find themselves rushing and hurrying from one activity to another, always racing with the clock and never getting on top of things. Part of this problem, for many students, is not being well organized. Effective time management can help."

There are others way that college students can create a less stressful environment as well. The University of Florida Counseling Center says that we can gain perspective by discussing our problems and offers several relaxation techniques to help us mellow out. Meditation, self-hypnosis, and deep muscle relaxation are all techniques that students can practice on a regular basis to help them cope with stress.

The key is understanding that stress is only harmful to us when it becomes excessive. According to the UFCC, "Much of the stress that we all experience is helpful and stimulating. The challenges of life tend to be stressful and an attempt to avoid stress completely would lead to a rather boring existence. The problem comes when you experience too much stress."

It is no secret that most college students are constantly feeling the stresses and pressures of their daily lives. However, it becomes clear that there are ways to help avoid it all becoming too much. Sometimes, they might even include "Wife Swap" and a heating pad.

College Stress

The Many Faces Of Stress
By Katy Berninger

I remember waking up in the middle of night and having the most excruciating headache I had ever experienced. Recounting the pain to my parents the next day, I compared my headache to that of having someone take a knife and repeatedly stab my head.

My very alarmed parents asked me if I was stressed in anyway and was there something that was weighing on my mind or causing an extra burden. I told them no, there wasn't anything in particular. Besides, I thought, I would know if I were stressed.

Low and behold, my curiosity to find out what had caused my headache led me to the Internet and to a symptom of stress, which I think is very appropriately named an “ice pick headache.”

Scanning the Internet I found an abundant amount of information on this type of headache and came to the conclusion that perhaps I was stressed. Maybe, contrary to my own beliefs, sometimes we don't realize when we're stressed.

What the University of Florida Counseling Center (UFCC) explains is that “symptoms of stress come in many forms.” I was experiencing headaches for months before it culminated into one massive headache that forced to me to pay attention to what my body was telling me. I had no idea that it was because of stress, and I assumed that if I were legitimately feeling a strain in some aspect of my life that my reaction would be more emotional.

The UFCC acknowledges that stress can disguise itself in a variety of ways. It becomes our job to recognize when a headache is not just any headache, or the anger you feel is far more deep rooted.

Our inability to recognize symptoms of stress is why it is crucial for there to be more education on the topic and the effects it can have on our bodies and minds. We will be better equipped to handle stress if we know what to look for.

The UFCC is taking a step towards bringing awareness to this very issue, and knows that stress is so common that people tend to forget that it is there. I went about my daily life completely oblivious that I was stressed. Once I paid attention to how I was feeling I was better able to pinpoint what was causing the stress in my life, and remedy the situation.

For many people, including myself, I think there tends to be a disconnect between what we think stress is and how we expect our bodies to react. I immediately brushed off the idea that I was under any type of stress because I didn't exhibit any of the, what I thought, were common symptoms.

Looking back I realize that I should have been paying better attention. Perhaps, now when you notice small changes in your body or mind you will take care of yourself. I know I have learned my lesson.

College Stress

Coffee Smoffee
By Sydney Zarp

Every night around midnight I catch myself wishing there were a couple more hours in the day. Loaded with stress from club responsibilities, midterms, job duties, and a social life, there just is not enough time in the day to have a healthy balance of everything.

My daily schedule is packed hour-to-hour with things that need to get accomplished. From 7 a.m. to midnight I feel like I never have a moment to breathe. This has been apart of my life since I was a young girl in elementary school, always having a loaded schedule, and this stress has caused my painful migraines.

I have been in and out of doctors’ offices for the past eight years searching for what my migraine trigger could possibly be. Some told me that I am allergic to caffeine and others told me that it is ‘just a phase’ and I will grow out of it.

Finally, fed-up with missing school events and calling in sick to work, I found a specialist to get a straight answer. After multiple tests from hearing to eyesight, my doctor looked me dead in the eye and said the reason for my migraines is because of the ‘high stress levels and lack of sleep.’

All these years and that was the simple answer! If only someone could have told me that nine years ago, I could have lived a much smoother life.

To avoid these migraines I have had to adapt to a new lifestyle, which I am sure many other college students could benefit from. Life adjustments need to be made. Learning how to handle the stress of daily activities and making time for the social life we crave is essential.

The University of Florida Counseling Center says, “part of this problem, for many students, is not being well-organized. Effective time management can help.”

Sometimes choosing not to go party with your friends on a Friday night is the decision you have to make for your health. Stress can cause physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms. The UFCC gives us insight on what the symptoms may include, “muscular tension, backaches, depression, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating.”

These are just a few of the symptoms many students and adults suffer from daily. The UFCC helps us define a way to avoid stress by, “The right balance of sleep, food, exercise, work, school, and recreation is crucial.”

Finding the perfect balance of our daily stresses is a struggle for everyone. Although for me, and many other students, it’s the only way to avoid painful migraines. Altering my lifestyle has been tough, but the benefits of living a more stress free life outweigh the random fun Friday nights.

Taking a step back from the smaller picture and looking at your life as a whole can help you gain perspective. The UFCC says, “Clarifying your values and deciding what you really want out of your life can help you feel better about yourself and have that sense of satisfaction and centeredness that helps you deal with the stresses of life.”

Setting long-term goals is one way I have adjusted my life for the better. By having a clear vision of what I want out of the next two years, I can avoid some pointless stress. Also, setting aside specific times to do things I truly enjoy like shopping, or playing tennis with my friends are small adjustments that have made big life improvements for me, and should be something more college students do.

Maybe the pressures of exceeding in both school and life have become so stressful that students will have to learn to live with stress forever. Changing those behaviors that you can could be the first step in a healthier direction. Maybe your headache is not from a three-cup a day coffee overload, but more of an issue with stress.

College Stress

Can Stress Be A Blessing In Disguise?
By Alyssa Schwartz

“I’m SO stressed!” This statement is one that is heard over and over by numerous people throughout each and every day. I personally say the phrase at least once or twice a day. Between school, work, socializing and life responsibilities; there are many factors coming in and out of our lives that cause us to be stressed.

As a society, we have made stress into an illness that we constantly want to avoid; but is stress really as bad as it is made out to be?

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, stress comes into people’s lives through various different channels. There are four primary sources of stress that can cause people to have physical, emotional and cognitive pains and worries in their lives. People become tense and nervous, ultimately causing themselves “stress.”

We let this stress affect the way we run our lives. Our perspective on stress is often so concentrated on seeing the negative; that we fail to see all of the good that can come with being “stressed.”

I see stress as motivator rather then a problem. As a college student there are a lot of “stresses” that come with doing well in school and achieving a degree. Waking up earlier than wanted, working hard all day in various classes then coming home to do more reports and assignments all cause a great deal of worry and anxiety.

Stress becomes my motivator to do well and to work hard. The anxiety and nervousness that comes with deadlines and grades is what pushes me to do better and work harder. Without that stress; there would be little motivation or reason to work my hardest.

The stress put on college students by society to go to school and get a degree is one of the main reasons most people go to school and work hard. Especially in today’s economy, the need for a degree pushes people to go to school and do well.

The jobs and opportunities that come out of achieving a college degree are usually worth the stress and work that one has to contribute. Stress was one of the main forces behind my motivation to receive an internship I wanted and to be successful in the job. The stress of the competition pushed me to prove myself as the best candidate. Stress becomes a high force behind success.

While having too low of a stress level will not do much of anything for you; having too high of a stress level will not better you either. The University of Florida suggests developing a balanced lifestyle as a way of overcoming stress and finding an optimum stress level. The ability to make stress work for you is an essential part of finding the good in stress.

Everyone is going to get stressed at some point in his or her lives. Almost every situation we have humans can cause stress on some level. It is so easy to get caught up in our problems and in our stress that we let it affect us in a negative manner.

Learning how to indentify stress and turn it into a positive aspect could lead people to be more successful in everything that they do. Finding your optimum stress will ultimately enable you to work hard, concentrate more and motivate yourself to be the best you can be.

College Stress

Try Exercising Your Stress Into Submission
By Erin Maguire

It is an average, spring afternoon at Marymount Manhattan College. Midterms have almost passed, and students are preparing for spring break. However, around this college, and countless others throughout the country, there is a harried atmosphere of frenzy. This is commonplace for college, and according to a recent study at UCLA, 30 percent of freshmen surveyed reported feeling stressed and "frequently overwhelmed" by everything they have to do.

So what's to be done when midterms, school loans, and papers are all weighing on the mind? Exercise. Regular exercise along with a healthy diet and balanced lifestyle can be the best stress relieving tool out there. According to the University of Florida Counseling Center (UFCC), living a healthy lifestyle can be one of the biggest ways to battle stress, "your overall level of health also affects stress reactions to various situations.

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. You need to pay attention to your own well-being. The right balance of sleep, food, exercise, work, school, and recreation is crucial."

Additionally, according to the article, “How Exercise Helps Reduce Stress” published on Article Alley, when a person is stressed there are certain chemical reactions that occur in the body preparing it for the fight or flight response.

This response was important during our days as prehistoric caveman when animal attacks were more prevalent, but now, modern man doesn't have to face a saber toothed tiger on a daily basis, and because of this response we are left with a surplus of negative emotions and adrenaline. This is where exercise comes in; exercise can be an important outlet for these pent up feelings of stress, including worrying, anxiety, depression and irritability. Regular exercise manages this fight or flight response and helps restore the body to equilibrium.

Moreover, another leading causes of stress according to UFCC, is "general unhappiness and a sense of aimlessness or lack of purpose often....people sometimes wind up making choices and living life styles that really don't fit them." Exercising regularly increases endorphins, which are the body's 'feel good' chemicals. Runners will often refer to this phenomenon as runners high.

Exercising can provide immediate relief for feelings of unhappiness and can also provide long term happiness by leading to better self esteem. When a person regularly exercises, they know they are moving towards a better, healthier body, and results are visible which can give a person a sense of direction because they know they are working towards something.

So, where can students exercise? Anywhere. Exercising doesn’t have to be expensive. If not interested in joining a gym, students can purchase home work out DVDs, take brisk walks, go jogging, or even join a recreational sports team. Some great picks for Marymount students? Crunch Fitness is located on 59th Street and 2nd Avenue and has amenities such as fun classes, a steam room/sauna, boxing ring and weight studios. Some other local options are Equinox, and Focus on Fitness that have special Marymount student rates.

Monday, March 23, 2009

College Stress

Stress: A Deadly Matter
By Damaris Colon

Excruciating and pounding migraines, sensitivity to light, and nose bleeds; these are the physical complications I’ve experienced as a result of what many college students are recently becoming way too familiar with.

In March of 2008, I visted my doctor and told him my symptoms. After a few minutes he quickly found the cause of my frequent headaches and nose bleeds: high blood pressure, which has been linked to heart attacks and sudden death. The doctor told me that I “would be on medication for the rest of my life.”

Everyday causes of stress: school, work, commuting, and health.

There should be no reason for a twenty-one year old woman to be diagnosed with high blood pressure; with a generally healthy diet what could be the cause? The answer: STRESS. Being a junior in college is stressful enough on its own. However, being a full-time junior in college, a full time public relations assistant, living alone, paying bills, and maintaining a relationship has proven to be ten times more stressful; and I have the prescription meds to prove it.

This scenario may become too familiar for college students today; though everyone reacts to stress differently. According to the University of Florida’s Counseling Center ( UFCC), students today are experiencing more stress than the generations before them as they face the competition for grades, the need to perform, relationships, fear of AIDS, career choice, and many other aspects of college life.

Not all stress is bad stress, however. The stress you feel when you are preparing to take an exam may give you that extra push you need to focus and study hard so you can do well on your test. The trouble arises when you experience too much stress says the UFCC.

The UFCC provides four primary sources of stress: the environment (noise, pollution, traffic, crowding) physiological (illness, injuries, inadequate sleep), your thoughts (the way you think affects how you respond), and social stressors (financial problems, work demands, losing a loved one).

Like many illnesses stress doesn’t go without symptoms. Some of these symptoms of stress can include physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, muscular tension, headaches, and difficulty sleeping; emotional symptoms such as irritability, depression, and anger; and cognitive symptoms such as forgetfulness, unwanted thoughts, and difficulty concentrating.

There are several ways to minimize stress in your life. The UFCC specifies four general ways to minimize and deal with stress; these include developing a balanced lifestyle, gaining perspective by discussing problems, utilizing relaxation techniques, and clarifying your values and develop a sense of life meaning. By maintaining the right balance of sleep, food, exercise, work, and recreation you can begin to develop a balanced lifestyle.

Allowing oneself to discuss problems with a friend is a great way to gain new perspectives. Seeking relaxation through calming exercises such as deep breathing, yoga, or even just sitting in silence can lead to a replenished energy level and ability to cope with the outside world. Knowing what you want out of life and setting goals can help you feel better about yourself and increase your satisfaction out of life.

Stress has become a part of our every day lives however; we don’t have to let it run our lives. It is very important, for college student especially, to maintain a healthy lifestyle now so as to insure healthy habits in the future.

For more information on this visit the University of Florida’s Counseling Center online.