Learn to control college stress

The stress of college can be overwhelming. Classes require massive amounts of readings, writing papers and studying. Outside of the classrooms, there are nonstop organizational meetings, entertainment and other various campuswide programs. With a combination of trying to succeed academically and becoming an active participant in campus activities, college life is a constant whirlwind of activity from the first day of the semester through the end of finals week. Continuing this nonstop pattern, though often in good fun, can lead to high levels of both physical and emotional stress for anyone.According to University of Wisconsin-Platteville research studies, symptoms of stress include dizziness, fatigue, loss of appetite, migraine headaches, lower back and neck pain and even loss of reality in extreme situations.

For me, the extreme pressure to do well in my classes and to integrate into campuswide activities causes me a great deal of stress. I feel that if I want to maximize college experience, I need to be involved in as many activities as possible. As I continue in my college career, however, I realize constant involvement only adds to my resume at the expense of potentially spreading myself too thin.

Gary Boehm, a psychology professor, is currently conducting research on the interaction between the brain and the immune system under prolonged periods of psychological stress, and ultimately, our physical well-being. This indicates that we must learn to manage chronic stress at a young age in order to avoid future cardiovascular problems and immune system dysfunction.

“If we don’t find a way to diminish our stress levels, we increase the risk for a variety of health problems somewhere down the road, even if the effects may not occur in the immediate future,” Boehm said.

Stress not only effects our physical health, but it can lead to such mental illnesses as anxiety and depression.

Lindsay White, a junior fashion merchandising major, said, “Stress sometimes makes me want to give up on studying, and I can feel it physically wear on my body.”

Mauricio Papini, a psychology professor, reports that emotional stress is often related to social situations. Papini explains that stress is often in the eye of the beholder. A reasonable amount of stress will encourage a student to study sufficiently for an exam. At the same time, excessive stress levels may cause a student to forget everything they have studied. According to the Yerkes-Dodson principle in psychology, a certain amounts of stress actually improves learning, memory and performance.

While there is no quick fix in doing away with stressful situations, there are many ways to make them tolerable.

Boehm offers these solutions to stress: Build a social support network, take time to engage in activities you enjoy with people you like to be around, and remember that working out regularly and getting enough sleep provide natural stress relief.

According to Health Central Network, some situations are beyond our control, and stress is inevitable. The networks also notes that the sooner you learn to let a stressful situation run its course, the less time you will spend “spinning your wheels” and allowing the stressful situation to lead to even greater detriment.

We can all encounter stressful situations in our college career; there is just no way around it. As a college student, it is important to remember you are not alone your feelings in these situations. Thus, it is important to learn both time and stress management techniques as these situations occur. By not dealing with those situations, we subject ourselves to otherwise avoidable health concerns in the future. We can all beat our own stress as long as we make a conscious effort to do so.

Michelle Anderson is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Tyler. Her column appears on Fridays.