As week five comes to a close and week six begins the semester seems like it’s slipping away. With multiple tests and assignments due and engagements to extracurricular activities, we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed or stressed. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, “two-thirds of office visits to family doctors are for stress-related symptoms.”
What is stress? According to ehealthMD.com, “stress is the emotional and physical strain caused by our response to pressure from the outside world”. This means that everyone’s personal response to a situation will differ from the next person’s. Stress can be very helpful in some ways causing you to rise to the occasion and effectively solve your problems, and in fact it may be argued that without stress our lives would be pointless or boring, but when one feels extremely stressed it can cause damage to your health. When you face a stressful event or find yourself in “overload” a lot of things are happening in your body.
MedicineNet.com gives a simple overview of the biological process saying, “[first] the hypothalamus releases a compound corticotrophin factor (CRF). The CRF then travels to the pituitary gland, where it triggers the release of a hormone, adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). ACTH is released into the bloodstream and causes the cortex of the adrenal gland to release the stress hormones, particularly cortisol. Cortisol increases the availability of the body’s fuel supply, which is needed to respond to stress. However, if cortisol levels remain elevated for too long muscle breaks down, there is a decreased inflammatory response, and suppression of the immune system occurs”. Not only is there a direct biological effect of stress but it also causes us to engage in unhealthy activities such as binge drinking, smoking, and comfort eating, which can cause harm to the rest of the body.
What causes stress? Because everyone’s outlook on life is different we all have different definitions of what a stressful event is. For example, some may be stressed about giving a speech in class and others may not have any feelings, or some may be stressed about starting a new job and others may be excited. Stress affects most of the nation’s college students. The National College Health Assessment, a research survey group that specializes in gathering information about college students, reports that out of 17,000 students that were surveyed 25% of them has felt so stressed it was difficult to function three to eight times in the past month. Some reasons that college students become stressed is the amount of schoolwork, wanting to fit in socially, or just the new environment.
Stress can be a very complex biological process, but on the contrary can be easily managed. Some things you can do to relieve stress are eat healthy, exercise regularly, or just talk to someone about the things you’re going through. Fortunately all of these things can be done here on campus. If you want to eat healthy instead of snacking on a Snickers Bar or guzzling three Red Bulls you can visit any of the three dining halls to get a well balanced meal, including dessert. If you don’t like dining hall food you can also walk to Carmichael Gymnasium for a light workout and even get a personal trainer. Don’t have the time to work out? University offered counselors, who can be found in the Student Health Services building, are always there to listen and can also help with academic concerns when you cannot meet with your advisor. During exam week clubs and organizations will offer services such as massages or just Krispy Kreme Donuts and coffee to minimize the stress on students. There are a lot of resources available to students that suffer from stress, but you have to recognize when you’re stressed