Title: Stress and college students
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00020140/00001
 Material Information
Title: Stress and college students
Physical Description: Archival
Creator: University of Florida. Division of Student Affairs
Publisher: University of Florida
Publication Date: 2003
Copyright Date: 2003
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00020140
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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301 Peabody Hall



I ,


College life can be very stressful. Sometimes
parents, faculty and others tend to idealize their
college experience and remember it as that
idyllic time when they had few worries or
responsibilities. To students currently attending
college, however, the process is often stressful
and frustrating. The competition for grades,
financial concerns, relationships, fear of STDs,
career choice, and many other aspects of the
college environment can cause stress. Some
stress is healthy and often motivates us to work
toward our goals. The problem comes when
you experience too much stress.

Although some stress reactions are part of
deeper and more serious emotional problems,
many are not. Some of life's most positive
events, such as planning a vacation or
purchasing a home can be highly stressful.
Whether your feelings of stress are due to
positive events or difficult life experiences, they
may be reduced with counseling or some
relatively simple stress-management
techniques. You can use the following
guidelines to help manage your stress:

1. Become more aware of potential sources of
stress and symptoms that you might

2. Develop a balanced life-style and effective
personal organization

3. Learn specific relaxation techniques

4. Gain perspective on problems by discussing
them, and

5. Clarify your values and develop a sense of
life meaning


There are four primary sources of stress:

1. The Environment-examples include
noise, pollution, traffic and crowding, and
the weather.
2. Physiological-examples include illness,
injuries, hormonal fluctuations, and
inadequate sleep or nutrition.
3. Your Thoughts-the way you think
affects how you respond. Negative self-
talk, catastrophizing, and perfectionism all
contribute to increased stress.
4. Social Stressors-examples include
financial problems, work demands, social
events, and losing a loved one.

Symptoms of stress appear in many forms. Some
symptoms only impact the person who is directly
experiencing stress, while other symptoms may
have an impact on our relationships with others.
Perhaps you experience some of the examples
below when your stress levels are elevated.

Physical symptoms
o muscular tension
o colds or other illnesses
o high blood pressure
o indigestion
o ulcers
o difficulty sleeping
o fatigue
o headaches
o backaches

Emotional symptoms
o irritability
o depression
o anger
o fear or anxiety
o feeling overwhelmed
o mood swings

*Cognitive symptoms
o forgetfulness
o unwanted or repetitive
o difficulty concentrating


Stress reactions to various situations are also
affected by your overall level of health.
Someone who is always feeling overwhelmed,
eats poorly, and doesn't get enough sleep (a
description of many students) usually has a
limited ability to cope with stressful events. You
need to pay attention to your own well being.
The right balance of sleep, food, exercise,
work, school, and recreation is crucial.

Some people are in a constant state of trying
to catch up. They find themselves rushing and
hurrying from one activity to another, always
racing with the clock and never getting on top
of things. Part of this problem, for many
students, is not being well organized. Effective
time management can help. See the
Counseling Center website and brochure
on Time Management for more


It is easy to get caught up in a problem or a
narrow view of something you are doing, and
to lose perspective and feel that a failure or
roadblock is a catastrophe. Discussing your
problems with a trusted, empathic friend can
allow you to gain new perspective and can
allow you to move out of what might seem like
an isolated and negative internal world. The
act of verbalizing your concerns and putting
them together will often help give you a sense
of control.


Relaxation techniques are extremely valuable
tools in stress management. Most of the
techniques like meditation, self-hypnosis, and
deep muscle relaxation work in a similar
fashion. They make it possible for you to spend
a short period of time in a state of profound
relaxation. In this state both the body and the
mind are at rest and the outside world is
screened out for a period of time. The practice
of one of these techniques on a regular basis
can provide a wonderfully calming and relaxing
feeling that seems to have a lasting effect for
many people. Your energy level and ability to
cope with the external world are replenished.
Practitioners and researchers have reported
many positive life effects from the regular
practice of one of these techniques.

You may want to take a course or read about
one of these techniques. The Counseling
Center, as well as various other campus
agencies, offer stress management groups.
These techniques easy to learn, but can be
difficult to fit into your schedule. If you don't
have an opportunity to get instruction, just
practice sitting quietly for 15 minutes, with no
interruptions. Let yourself relax by focusing on
something peaceful a beautiful scene at the
beach or in the mountains, for example.
Sometimes it is your negative thoughts or
worries that create tension. You can practice
"thought stopping techniques" and learn how to
use positive self-talk to cope with stress. Even
simple interruption can help. Stop and take a
purposeful 10-minute break. Go for a walk,
breathe deeply, call a friend, put on some
favorite music. Keep your sense of humor!
Remember, you can talk with a counselor to
learn more about how to develop these stress-
reducing skills.


Stress is often caused by general unhappiness and
a sense of aimlessness or lack of purpose. People
sometimes wind up making choices and living life
styles that really don't fit them. A student may be
studying accounting when he or she really wants to
be an artist, or he or she may have a wide circle of
friends, but not really have the kind of intimate
relationships that feel fulfilling.

Clarifying your values and deciding what you really
want out of your life, can help you feel better about
yourself and have that sense of satisfaction and
centeredness that helps you deal with the stresses
of life. This process is, of course, not easy. Most
of us are constantly growing and developing our
sense of self and our ideas about what we want
and how we want to live. A sense of spirituality
can help with this. You might find this with an
organized religion or it might be a more personal,
individual process. It may involve a sense of
oneness with nature, or it may be related to the
deep satisfaction gained from volunteer work that
really helps someone. Although each of us must
develop our own sense of well being and
spirituality, it does help to talk about these issues
with others, as a way of clarifying and challenging
our own ideas and beliefs.

James Archer, Ph.D., Christina Carroll, Ph.D., Authors
Jaquelyn Liss Resnick, Ph.D., Series Editor
Published by
University of Florida Counseling Center
301 Peabody Hall
(352) 392-1575

For students with disabilities, this publication is available in
alternate formats. Please contact the Counseling Center at
392-1575. Students with hearing or speech impairments,
please call the Florida Relay Service (FRS) at (800) 955-8771

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