Combating stress in college

Combating stress in college

By Brittney Payette

Managing Editor

Stress is common, especially for college students trying to juggle school with other obligations. As someone who tends to take on a multitude of responsibilities simultaneously, I understand how much stress can affect a person.

It is crucial for people to learn how to cope with stress in healthy ways.

Before we can discuss how to combat stress, we must first define what stress is.

Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D. states, “Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain.”

There are different types of stress that people can experience. For example, acute stress is a very short-term type of stress that can be positive or more distressing; and is the most common type of stress that people encounter daily. Chronic stress is long-term stress that seems to be inescapable and never-ending.

Other forms of stress include episodic acute stress, which is essentially acute stress that seems to run rampant and be a way of life for a person. It creates a life of ongoing distress.

Eustress is a more positive type of stress that can keep you energized and excited. Some stress can be good for you and keep you motivated. It is when stress becomes overwhelming that it becomes an issue for people.

Now that we have determined what stress is and the different types of stress, we can discuss some things that can cause stress. There is a multitude of other things that can cause these various types of stress.

There can be stress caused by relationships, school, work, conflict or issues in the household, financial issues, or even internal issues such as depression or anxiety.

Stressors can be internal or external, and both types can lead to some psychological, emotional, physical, and behavioral issues.

Since we have identified some things that cause stress, let’s determine a few ways to deal with stress, so that it does not become overwhelming.

First, you can try meditation. There are different types of meditation you can try. You can do mindfulness meditation. I like to practice 10-minute guided mindfulness meditation before giving a speech or taking an exam. This helps me clear my mind, be calmer and be more focused.

There are other types of meditation, such as visualization meditation, chanting meditation using a mantra such om, etc. I recommend trying different types of meditation so you can figure out which ones you like best. If you want to, you can do multiple kinds of meditation a week or within a day if you have the time and the opportunity to do so.

Moreover, you can use deep breathing techniques to help cope with stress too. Deep breathing increases the oxygen supply to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for rest, relaxation, and digestion. You can even try incorporating deep breathing into your meditation.

What else can we do other than meditation and deep breathing to help us deal with stress? We can exercise. As many of you likely know, exercise can stimulate the production of a chemical called endorphins in the brain. Endorphins can improve your mood and serves as a natural painkiller for your body.

Harvard Medical School states, “Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.”

This means that exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it can also improve your mental health.

Getting enough sleep is also vital for managing stress. According to Dr. Michael Twery, sleep “affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health.” Since sleep affects so many different aspects of our health, it is crucial that we try to get enough sleep.

You may ask yourself, what are some strategies you can use to improve your own sleep?

You can try deep breathing exercises before bed. Limit your caffeine. Try to read a physical book before bed instead of being on your phone or computer because the light from some of your devices can disrupt your sleep. Stretch before bed. Try to perform an activity that is relaxing.

Another thing you can do if you are feeling stressed is to reach out to your support system. This can include family, friends, a mentor, a therapist, etc. Whoever supports and comforts you. It is okay if you do not have an extensive support system; just try to find someone who can lend an ear and be empathetic. 

If you need to build a good support network, try to put yourself out there in the world. Maybe volunteer for an organization, join a club or try to get to know some of your neighbors or coworkers better. A sound support system can be highly beneficial when you start to feel overwhelmed with stress.

Stress is prevalent in our lives, so it is imperative that we learn how to deal with it well and in a healthy manner. I hope that with these tips, you will all learn how to cope with daily stressors in a healthier and more effective way.

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