Stress

I am slowly going crazy…

Stress and college life go hand in hand. Social life, huge workloads, competition for grades, financial hardships and career decisions are all major stress-causing factors in the life of a typical student. But even though it’s usually seen in a negative light, stress isn’t always a bad thing. Stress increases our mental alertness and motivates us to overcome the challenges in our lives. Without stress, we would have a hard time ever meeting deadlines or achieving goals.

When Stress Gets Out of Control

Most college students are able to handle stress without any significant problems, but some are affected to a much greater degree. In some cases, stress levels can get so high that they cause serious health risks for a student.

Stress affects you not only psychologically but also physically. Excessive stress causes a hormonal change in your body, which can lead to problems with sleep and make the body more susceptible to illness. Since being tired and sick leads to more stress, it’s easy to see how things can spiral out of control in a vicious cycle. Stress can build up in your body like air filling a balloon. At some point, you reach a limit and the balloon will pop. This is called a nervous breakdown.

Warning signs of chronically high stress include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Anger and frustration
  • Difficulty focusing your thoughts
  • Inability to fall asleep
  • Waking up with the feeling that you didn’t get a good sleep
  • Frequent illnesses, including colds and the flu

If these symptoms describe you, speak to a counselor about ways to minimize your stress level.

Overcoming Stress

No two people experience stress the same way. Likewise, everyone deals with it in their own unique way. However, there are a few coping strategies that work in almost all cases. If you’re feeling stressed out, try these tips and see if they work for you:

  • Take control. Good time-management skills can make a huge difference in eliminating stress. Students who set goals and make a daily schedule feel in control of their lives and experience less stress than disorganized students. Set some priorities for yourself. Decide what is most important in your life and devote most of your time to it. Spend your time getting ready for the big test you have coming up, not deciding what to wear to the bar next weekend. In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Work out. Exercise is a great stress reliever. Play a sport or go for a jog. If those don’t sound like fun, remember that having sex counts as exercise.
  • Chill out. Take a break from whatever’s stressing you out. It’s not a crime to watch a movie or listen to some tunes every once in a while. If you just handed in the essay that you’ve been stressing over for weeks, take the night off from your schoolwork to celebrate.
  • Have a laugh. When it comes to stress, the saying “laughter is the best medicine” may actually be true. Spend some time joking around with friends and you’ll feel your stress melt away.
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