Stress is a daily factor of college life. Whether it is adjusting to life away from home or balancing a full load of classes with a chaotic work schedule, stress can put a lot of strain on a body.
“I am married and have a young son, of course, I get stressed. But I try to control it before it takes over my life,” Monica Sharpe, junior political science major, said.
Not all stress is harmful or negative. However, when faced with chronic stress and an overactivated autonomic nervous system, people begin to see physical symptoms.
According to Elizabeth Scott, M.S. , on About.com’s guide to stress management, the initial symptoms of stress are relatively mild, such as “chronic headaches and increased susceptibility to colds.” However, stress can cause more severe problems in the long run.
“As many as 90% of doctor’s visits are for symptoms that are at least partially stress-related,” said Scott.
include depression, diabetes, hair loss, heart disease, and even obesity.
“Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands in response to stress, and research does suggest that there may be a tie between cortisol levels in women and the accumulation of excess weight in the abdominal area,” says Dr. Andrew Well, founder and Program Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
With midterms right around the corner and spring break following close behind, no one wants to hit the beach with bald patches and a bloated belly. There are ways to avoid throwing away hours at the gym and that awful diet you took on to squeeze into your bathing suit this March.
“If I’m really stressed out, I go to the Rec [Center] and listen to my iPod while I work out or talk to one of my close friends,” Peggy Peterson, sophomore athletic training major, said.
According to Scott, one should learn tension-taming techniques that will activate your body’s relaxation response. Techniques that help put your body in a calm state include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing. When exercising, consider your needs, preference, and fitness level.
“The whole month of February is stressing me out. Usually I just listen to music or go play racquetball when I get too stressed out,” Justin Phillips, sophomore accounting and finance major, said.
According to Helpguide.com, it is important that you avoid temporary and unhealthy ways of dealing with stress such as smoking, over- or under eating, sleeping too much, procrastinating, and withdrawing from your everyday life.
Dealing with your stress does not mean avoiding all of your problems. Learn to adapt to your environment by managing your time, talking with friends and family, or venting in a journal. In addition, it is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle, even when you may want to submit during your times of chaos. This includes regular exercise (that means at least 30 minutes three times a week), a healthy diet (that means eat breakfast and eat balanced meals, not a string of snacks, during the day), avoiding caffeine and sugar and other temporary fixes for what is usually stress-related fatigue, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and sleeping.
If your stress has become a problem that deep breathing cannot fix, feel free to go to the Counseling Center located in Powell Hall. They offer outreach programs and individual counseling. Call 229-333-5940 to schedule an appointment.