Stress… If there was ever a five-letter word that you should avoid, this is it.
I know that a lot of times stress feels unavoidable, especially during the holidays. And I know that students these days are busier than ever before. I’m sure many of you are juggling family responsibilities, part-time or full-time jobs, and other things that take up your time and efforts. Nonetheless, the negative effects that stress has on your body make it something you should fight as strongly as you do the common cold or any other illness or disease.
In an article for the Washington Post, writer Jeff Goelitz says that today’s students are under “massive amounts of stress.” As a co-author of a new book, The College De-Stress Handbook: Keeping Cool Under Pressure from the Inside Out, Goelitz has done a lot of research on the effects that stress has on college students. In an effort to shed light on the damage it can have, Goelitz shares five important facts about stress that all college students should know.
1. Stress can make smart people do stupid things. Did you know that stress affects your brain? Goelitz writes that stress hinders an important part of the brain that influences your decision-making. It can also have a negative impact on other mental abilities as well, which is why it is so important to acknowledge your stress when you feel it and do everything you can to eliminate it (more on that later).
2. The human body doesn’t discriminate between a big stressful event and a little one. You know how people categorize a lie, right? A little lie is usually called a white lie or maybe a fib. A big lie doesn’t really need adjectives because the results of telling a big lie, and the effects it has on you and others pretty much shows that it was a big lie. It’s not like that with stress. To your body, there is no such thing as little white stress. “Any stressful experience will create a cascade of 1,400 biochemical events in your body,” writes Goelitz. And if you don’t get rid of it, he says, you can start to experience the results of these events, such as premature aging and lack of energy. Yikes.
3. Stress can become your new norm. When you wake up in the morning, it’s the start of a new day. No one has cut you off in traffic yet, or hurt your feelings. The work hasn’t piled up yet and yesterday’s deadlines are behind you. You should wake up feeling fresh and rejuvenated, not stressed. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Do you wake up feeling that way? If you don’t, and you find yourself feeling stressed more often than not, it’s possible that you’ve been stressed so much that your body sees that as your emotional norm. Goelitz writes that high stress can turn dangerous if it goes unchecked, and it can increase your risk for health problems, such as depression, sleep problems, memory impairment, obesity, digestive problems and more.
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4. Stress can be controlled. Yay! Obviously, with all the negative effects that stress can have, it makes sense that there would be studies done on how to control it. According to Goelitz, the key is “emotional-refocusing techniques.” This means realizing when you are feeling stress then refocusing your emotions on something more positive. Goelitz references a technique from the HeartMath website where you slow your thoughts and breathing, and focus on your heartbeat and positive feelings. Think it sounds kind of funny? Well, I bet it’s not as funny as wrinkles, sleep deprivation and depression. Consider giving it a shot! It seems to me that this is one of those times when the potential benefits would make it worth a try.
5. Stress less by loving what you study. Do you enjoy what you are studying? At Florida Career Colleges, we provide education and training to prepare students for real careers. With that in mind, the way you feel about your program of study now, is probably only going to intensify when it becomes your career. If you don’t enjoy learning about it and training for it, you probably aren’t going to enjoy it that much when you actually have to do it. If you already love what you do or what you are studying, congratulations! You are already on your way to becoming less stressed than probably half of the people in the world.
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