Saturday, March 28, 2009

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.

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