Stress is a part of day to day living. As college students you may experience stress meeting academic demands, adjusting to a new living environment, or developing friendships. The stress you experience is not necessarily harmful. Mild forms of stress can act as a motivator and energizer. However, if your stress level is too high, medical and social problems can result.
What is Stress?
Although we tend to think of stress as caused by external events, events in themselves are not stressful. Rather, it is the way in which we interpret and react to events that makes them stressful. People differ dramatically in the type of events they interpret as stressful and the way in which they respond to such stress. For example, speaking in public can be stressful for some people and relaxing for others.
Symptoms of Stress
There are several signs and symptoms that you may notice when you are experiencing stress. These signs and symptoms fall into four categories: Feelings, Thoughts, Behavior, and Physiology. When you are under stress, you may experience one or more of the following:
- Feeling anxious.
- Feeling scared.
- Feeling irritable.
- Feeling moody.
- Low self-esteem.
- Fear of failure.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Embarrassing easily.
- Worrying about the future.
- Preoccupation with thoughts/tasks.
- Stuttering and other speech difficulties.
- Crying for no apparent reason.
- Acting impulsively.
- Startling easily.
- Laughing in a high pitch and nervous tone of voice.
- Grinding your teeth.
- Increasing smoking.
- Increasing use of drugs and alcohol.
- Being accident prone.
- Losing your appetite or overeating.
Causes of Stress
- Perspiration /sweaty hands.
- Increased heart beat.
- Nervous ticks.
- Dryness of throat and mouth.
- Tiring easily.
- Urinating frequently.
- Sleeping problems.
- Diarrhea / indigestion / vomiting.
- Butterflies in stomach.
- Premenstrual tension.
- Pain in the neck and or lower back.
- Loss of appetite or overeating.
- Susceptibility to illness.
Both positive and negative events in one's life can be stressful. However, major life changes are the greatest contributors of stress for most people. They place the greatest demand on resources for coping.
Major Life Changes that can be Stressful
- Geographic mobility.
- Going to college.
- Transfer to a new school.
- New job.
- New life style.
- Death of a loved one.
- Being fired from your job.
Environmental Events that can be Stressful
How to Reduce Stress
- Time pressure.
- Financial problems.
Many stresses can be changed, eliminated, or minimized. Here are some things you can do to reduce your level of stress:
- Become aware of your own reactions to stress.
- Reinforce positive self-statements.
- Focus on your good qualities and accomplishments.
- Avoid unnecessary competition.
- Develop assertive behaviors.
- Recognize and accept your limits. Remember that everyone is unique and different.
- Get a hobby or two. Relax and have fun.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a balanced diet daily.
- Talk with friends or someone you can trust about your worries/problems.
- Learn to use your time wisely:
- Evaluate how you are budgeting your time.
- Plan ahead and avoid procrastination.
- Make a weekly schedule and try to follow it.
- Set realistic goals.
- Set priorities.
- When studying for an exam, study in short blocks and gradually lengthen the time you spend studying. Take frequent short breaks.
- Practice relaxation techniques. For example, whenever you feel tense, slowly breathe in and out for several minutes.