Tyler Allen | Correspondent
So you’ve survived the first week of classes for the semester, and now you’re easing yourself back into the swing of school. You’re getting to know your professors and peeping out the attractive classmates with which you’ll want to form study groups. However, beyond the riveting mental stimulation you’ll be receiving this year, you’ll most likely be experiencing some unwanted stress as well.
Dealing with classes, work, and relationships, on top of the plethora of extracurricular activities you might be involved with can be overwhelming at times. This is where the effects stress can start to creep in.
Stress can be represented by the basic equation “stress = demands > resources.” When one’s demands outweigh the resources they currently have, stress follows. For example, suppose you’ve got a multitude of assignments due tomorrow (demands), but you feel like you do not have enough time (resources) to complete the assignments- this can lead to stress. It can have several effects on the body including varying physical symptoms, changes in thinking, emotions, and even certain actions. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported, “Stress is as bad for your heart as smoking and high cholesterol.”
Being in college exposes us to unique stress factors. An article published by the Institute of Education Science looked at certain specific stress-inducers for African Americans in college which includes: “death of a family member (intrapersonal stress) 82 percent; low grades (academic stress) 69 percent; time management (academic stress) 61 percent; boyfriend/girlfriend problems (interpersonal stress) 57 percent; and missed classes (academic stress) 55 percent.”
When talking about stress, African Americans are particularly at risk for higher levels, especially males. African American males have the lowest life expectancy, as well as higher rates of hospitalization for diabetes, hypertension, and chest pain complications (all potential symptoms of stress). This can often be amplified by the “I’m a man, I can handle my problems by myself” mentality, which can lead to internalization of these problems and more stress.
A good strategy when it comes to dealing with stress is self-awareness, such as knowing what specific things or situations cause you to become stressed, what your strengths and weaknesses are, how you individually cope with stress. Another is time management; try to improve your prioritization, and decrease your procrastination. Side Note: marijuana is not a certified stress-management plan.
Do not be afraid to seek help! Often times African Americans shy away from seeking medical attention because of certain negative stigmas surrounding medicine or counseling. Going to a counselor or therapist does not mean you are crazy. They are trained to offer help to students, especially on how to solve old problems in new ways. The Student Health Center on campus has licensed counselors that offer free sessions to students as well as other resources for students who are coping with stress.