Many people can experience stress as they attempt to balance their busy lives filled with school, work, and maintaining a social life. For some, stress can become a major part of their life. We all can experience sporadic stress– preparing for a major exam, rushing to complete a project, or a sticky financial situation. However, a continuous “state” of stress can have an increase for certain health risks and can cause wear and tear on our general well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.8% of men and 12.3% of women, ages 18–24, report frequent mental distress – a key indicator for the onset of depression and other mental disorders later on in life.
So what is stress? Stress is defined as a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems such as school, work, and personal life. For many students, college is the prime time of life. However, these critical years of adjustment are often undermined by the stressors caused by the high demands of what being a college student is all about. Common stressors of students may include: greater academic demands, financial responsibilities, and exposure to new people, ideas and temptations. A recent survey of freshmen conducted at UCLA reported that more than 30% of all college students regularly feel overwhelmed. Stress is a process that can build, so continous stress can cause disruption on your physical, emotional, spiritual, and social health. Practicing various methods to activate your body’s relaxation response will effectively ease the disturbances that stress causes.
If your current ways of coping with stress are not contributing to your greater general well-being, it is time to find healthier ones. Some suggestions for reducing your stress levels and enhancing your college experience include: Get at least seven hours of nightly sleep, structure each day to include a minimum of twenty minutes of exercise, avoid caffeine, go to class, keep up with course work, get involved with campus activities, and be sure to take time for yourself– Read a book, listen to music, get a massage, watch a movie, or play with a pet! Do not get caught up with the hustle and bustle of your busy schedule. Nurturing yourself to promote your mental health is a necessity, not a luxury.