Stress for Students

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Stress for Students

Piper Walsh, Writer

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There’s a paper due next Monday, the math is complicated, there’s a huge argument, and the cold is going around. Students are under a lot of stress throughout their day to day lives, but many people do not understand how to deal with this or don’t recognize the problem. The pressures of academic achievements that could dictate years to come, the mood swings of teachers, the social pressure of peers everyday and learning self-maintenance and responsibility are just some of the challenges which all students encounter and overcome without taking much note. According to Sam Bisno, a freshman student, “I think that the stress of school is real and lots of kids including myself feel the stress of looming assignments. I think this is a genuine problem that needs to be addressed.” Stress is a serious issue which can actually cause many health issues. It also decreases performance in all areas of life, especially academic, “I deal with my stress by procrastinating. It’s a downward cycle, my procrastination causes stress and I deal with my stress by procrastination.” According to Isaac Degenholtz, “I get my work done and then get the bad grades later.” Many students aren’t aware of how to deal with stress and allow it to negatively affect their life.

Stress causes notable physical symptoms very quickly. These include headaches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, digestive issues, and irritability. These symptoms are often ignored and assumed normal when these issues are actually the result of the pressure they are putting themselves under to achieve. The problem with not confronting stress issues is that they can escalate into health threats if not treated. Depression, cardiovascular issues, weight loss/gain, and skin issues such as acne are some of the more noticeable changes as a result of too much stress. Luckily, stress can be alleviated in several different ways.

There are two different types of stressors: major stressors and microstressors. Major stressors are things such as the death of a family member, loss of a job, mortgage problems, and other stressful events that can majorly affect your life in a negative way. These issues understandably cause stress, and if the situation starts to worsen and lead to physical and mental health problems, professional help should be sought out according to the situation. Microstressors are small events in daily life which build up to cause stress. Microstressors include things like approach-approach choices between two positive choices, avoidance-avoidance choices between two negative choices, and approach-avoidance choices that involve deciding whether or not to participate in actions that seem to be both positive and negative. In addition events like as losing possessions, encountering traffic, spending long periods of time under fluorescent lights, and poor self-care can add to stress.

 

Some things that can be done to decrease stress are:

 

  • Avoid Caffeine; caffeine is a stimulant which will only serve to increase stress. Some coffee in the morning is okay but better in moderation.
  • Sleep more; sleeping more creates more energy, increasing productivity and decreasing stress.
  • Work out; getting exercise releases hormones that create a positive mood. In addition, becoming fit increases confidence.
  • Talk to people; participating in stress-free social situations can lighten the burden of stress and help in finding coping methods.
  • Write down stresses; keeping a stress journal and recording the pressures of life will add to a sense of control.
  • Plan ahead; even sketching down a list of times to work on assignments will lower the weight the work holds and add to the stress of school.
  • Eliminate distractions; small noises in the background are microstressors and will only serve to increase stress.
  • Take breaks; 5-7 minute breaks during work to rest and do a pleasant activity can cause rejuvenation and increased productivity.
  • Read before bed; participating in a calming activity before going to bed improves sleep and decreases anxiety.
  • Stay organized ; visual distractions can cause stress, and also disorganization can increase the chance of losing something causing more stress.
  • Occupy the weekends; being productive during free times prevents the feeling of being overwhelmed as well as adding to the amount of time spent participating in positive activities.

 

In addition to these simple things that can be done to relieve stress, many schools and other organizations provide opportunities to participate in calming activities. Sports teams are fun and provide a community of friends while at the same time creating goals and improving fitness. There are also classes which can teach time and stress management. Pitt offers an activity that, to quote an anonymous college student, “Is the best thing that ever happened to me.” Though this may be an exaggeration, many students find joy in the Pitt library every Tuesday when around 30 therapy dogs are brought in for them to hang out with, “They’re just so relaxing!” Petting a dog releases hormones causing joy and is a good way to relax. During this time the library is open so anyone can participate. There are many great ways to get rid of stress and everyone can do something about it.

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