By Raylyn Rollins
By Raylyn Rollins
Walking around campus there is an all-too-familiar sight. A dazed student clutching a Monster energy drink as if letting it go would cause the world to implode. The student rushes into class in the nick of time where he looks through his belongings for some sort of pencil and in a whirlwind of papers and candy bar wrappers, finds his notes for a little last minute studying before the big test.
The semester is not even half way over and already many college students are experiencing burnout. As midterms approach, homework piles up and job hours increase, college students are no stranger to that six letter word: stress.
Anxiety, back pain, fatigue, headaches, insomnia and stiff neck – all symptoms a stressed out person may feel. Every person experiences stress in life, it is a natural reaction to any given number of situations.
However, as stress gets worse without any sense of relief, health problems, emotional problems and more stress can occur.
College students in particular are prone to a heightened sense of stress and stress responses. Because many students hold a job in addition to school, relationships, extracurricular activities and a social life, stress levels can be through the roof. Although stress is natural, too much stress will take a toll on the body and affect a person’s ability to perform daily tasks.
Stress affects the immune system and digestive systems. This means that a stressed out person is more likely to get sick than some one who is calm.
According to The Stress Management Society, stress increases problems with allergies, asthma, headaches and can lead to cancer.
According to Reuter’s Health, one of the most effective ways to minimize stress and boost the stress response is getting enough exercise.
Studies recommend 30 minutes a day of exercise to keep healthy. Now, many college students have schedules already too packed to work with, much less fitting 30 minutes of exercise somewhere between maintaining a job and breaking it off with that significant other.
Exercise need not be so strenuous, though. It can be as simple as parking in the back of the parking lot.
This may not seem like a plausible alternative for the student who always enters class just in time, but think of how much MORE exercise is involved in an Olympian sprint from the parking lot to the classroom. More endorphins mean less stress.
For the students shaking their heads and wondering how to possibly fit exercise into their schedule, know that the vicious “e word” is not the only way to manage stress – a healthy diet can work wonders.
The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests eating well balanced meals while avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
Many students have diets that only loosely cover the food groups. Although it is nice to believe that French fries count as vegetables, diets high in fat make the body far more sluggish than a well balanced diet will. Healthy alternatives may not be as fun to eat, but switching from a Pop-Tart and Red Bull to an apple and water will be much better in the long run. There may not be that sensational buzz or the anticipated caffeine-induced stupor, but the body reacts much better to water for hydration and a diet low in fat.
Another easy way to reduce stress is light mediation.
According to the American Psychological Association, 10 to 15 minutes of relaxing alone time will not only lower blood pressure, but will often put things into perspective.
Ten minutes of alone time is difficult to find in a packed schedule, but it can be as easy as arriving a few minutes early to school and sitting for a minute in the car de-stressing after traffic.
Students can also find a moment alone while walking to class and taking in the sights and sounds. Even the sounds of the construction on the quadrangle can be melodic if you try hard enough.
Finally, relaxation and stress-reduction can be found in simple hobbies. Do what is enjoyable; take up sewing, fishing, or some other alternative – like playing “the license plate game” in traffic. Hobbies can be simple ways to do something fun while relieving stress.
Stress is a natural response to everyday situations. Although every person experiences stress, working to combat too much stress can lead to a happier, healthier life.