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Fighting stress and finding academic success

College students often find themselves overwhelmed juggling adult life and staying on top of their schoolwork. These high expectations can lead to increased stress levels, which ultimately affect their academic performance and overall well-being.

According to the Stress Management Society, the body responds to stress by switching to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters.

Stress can, of course, be positive, keeping the body alert and motivated, but too much stress can have a negative effect on the body.

A study published in the medical journal Depression and Anxiety reported that three out of four college students nationwide admit to having high levels of stress.

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(Graphic design created by Monika Clarke)

The study also found that mounting expectations, an evolving sense of self-identity and the shock of leaving home make college students vulnerable to higher stress levels and mental health risks.

For college students, stress can be caused by a variety of triggers: financial problems, highly demanding classes, problems and an overwhelming workload.

We’ve heard numerous times that the best way to cope with stress is to get enough sleep, eat well and exercise. Taking care of yourself while in college is important, but what that may look like is different for all of us.

While hundreds of studies indicate numerous ways to deal with stress, Wildcats have, and handle, their own unique stressors.

“I feel like there is so much pressure to be involved, get good grades, get your assignments done on time and also work. It’s just a lot of pressure to get things done all at the same time,” said Gibson Green, a junior at
Weber State.

Weber State student Cody Griffin said his source of stress came from deadlines.

“I wish I had more time in a day to do all the things that are expected of me and then work part time. It’s hard to fit in all those things and then also get good sleep,” Griffin said.

Stress is a completely normal occurrence in the lives of college students, and while its common, it shouldn’t
be ignored.

The 2010 American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment reported that more than 25 percent of college students’ low grades, or inability to finish a course, was directly related to stress.

High levels of stress can lead to a variety of symptoms that affect a student’s academic performance. Some of these symptoms include frequent headaches, nervous habits and even an upset stomach.

Griffin said when he is stressed, it affects him in all aspects of his life, socially and mentally.

“When I have so many other things to do, I get frustrated or overwhelmed and I just can’t think clearly,”
Griffin said.

Prioritizing tasks and making sure that you have enough time to complete schoolwork is important but also harder than it may seem.

Alyson Mcnearny, a student at Weber State, said that now that she has progressed in her degree, her main concern is keeping straight the new information she has learned.

“I just have to make sure to manage my time well. I also have work after my classes, so I have to make sure I have enough time to get studying done,” Mcnearney said.

As a result of setting aside extra time to do well in classes, many students claim their relationships and social life have little to no existence.

“I think relationships will get pushed to the side because I have to focus on getting good grades,” Green said. “So, even my family and friends get neglected because I’m so focused on getting all my tasks done.”

Mcnearny has experienced the same issue as she focuses more of her time on studying and classwork.

“I’m using all of my extra time to study and so I don’t really get to hang out with my friends because school is my priority right now,” Mcnearny said.

Although dropping a few things off your plate may help your situation, learning to manage stress is a skill important for all college students.

With how busy our schedules can be these days, it can be difficult to find time for yourself. But making time for yourself is just as important as making time for your classes and work.

“Trying to get my mind off of the things that are stressing me helps, not having to think about it all day everyday, and just having time to myself,” Griffin said.

Recent research from the University of Rochester says that being bored or alone will shut off parts of the brain that promote heightened awareness, which in turn leads to less stress.

Spencer Duncan, the Event Liaison on the Presidential Cabinet and a WSU Alternative Breaks Leader, said that although he has multiple responsibilities at school, he specifically tries to do homework while on campus, so that he doesn’t have to worry about
it afterwards.

“I also try to get all my work done during the week so that on the weekends I can go do something. I try to do something on the weekends that’s big and gets me away from home,”
Duncan said.

Being aware of what causes stress in your life and understanding the negative affects it can have, makes a tremendous difference in your college experience.

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