Stress and the College Student
Going to College this Fall? This one's for you!
WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress is the result of physiological responses your body has in response to a variety of internal and external events that are surprising, challenging, or even scary. All types of stress can have both long and short-term consequences to your body, your ability to absorb new information, your personal life, and how you provide care to your patients.
Beyond the typical demands of a student in college, students can experience increased levels of stress as they deal with the challenges of balancing school with other responsibilities for the first time, a fear of making mistakes, and performing in a highly competitive environment.
Acute Stress - An immediate response to an immediate perceived threat. Think “fight, flight, freeze”
Chronic Stress - The buildup of stress over a long period of time
WARNING SIGNS OF CHRONIC STRESS
It is easy to overlook what your body is telling you when you have so many other responsibilities. Here are some symptoms of chronic stress:
· Increased frequency in illness
· Increased irritability
· Changes in your sleep and/or eating behaviors
· Increased difficulties concentrating
· Increased anxiety, feelings of panic, or easily overwhelmed
· An increase in making “careless” mistakes
· Changes in how you view things, especially things you used to care about (apathy)
How to Cope with Stress
So, what can you do when the stress of life becomes too much?
1. Implement strategies before the stress starts. It is very easy to pick up bad habits at the start of a new responsibility, but very difficult to put those down again.
2. Set aside daily time for that healthy thing you enjoy, even for 5 minutes.
3. Keep in contact with your supports. It’s important to have people who can relate to your stressors, i.e., other college students, but it is just as important to have supports who have nothing to do with your academic or professional career. Sometimes, you just need to talk about your favorite tv show instead of “shop talk”.
4. Make a list. Prioritizing your responsibilities and sticking with that list is vital to keeping stress down. Keep the list out of your head and off your phone, so when it’s time for a break you’re not continuously being reminded.
5. Just because you can do anything, that doesn’t mean you can do everything. Remember, the quickest way to chronic stress is to take on the weight of the world. Delegate responsibilities where you can.
6. Ask for help and accept when you’ve made a mistake. What do you mean, you’re not perfect? Students have an opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes. If you’ve made a mistake, acknowledge it and reach out to someone who can guide you in moving forward. Turn can’t into yet.
7. Pay attention to your body. It is important to keep your body healthy and working with you. Stick to a routine. Drink lots of water. Get rid of your stress though exercise.
8. Enjoy this journey. You are growing into something tremendous and amazing. All the changes you are experiencing will help you realize your goals. Accepting that this process forces you to change will take your stress down and leave you open to greater possibilities.