College students are vulnerable to stressful situations. In fact, many research studies show that student are at a greater risk. However, there are helpful strategies for students to alleviate, reduce or prevent stressful situations in their lives. Although some stress reactions are very serious and can prevent a person from performing his or her daily activities, most stressful situations are not serious and can be handled with relatively simple counseling and stress-management techniques.
In mild cases of stress, experts such as James Archer and Christina Carroll recommend that students develop a balanced lifestyle and effective personal organization; learn specific relaxation techniques; gain perspective on problems by discussing them; clarify their values; and develop a sense of spirituality. These practical techniques could help students feel better about life and at the same time reduce stress, experts believe.
According to Archer and Carroll, there are four major factors that cause stress: environmental, physiological, psychological and social. The environmental factor includes things such as traffic, noise and pollution. Inadequate sleep or nutrition is a physiological factor that can cause stress. Thoughts are also a significant factor that contributes to stress.
For example, negative self-talk and perfectionism contribute to increased stress. The most common stressor is the social stressor. This includes financial problems, work demands, social events and losing a loved one.
It is important that students learn to recognize stress symptoms. A report by the University of South Florida states that symptoms include headaches, backaches, loss of appetite, fatigue and depression. Sometimes students ignore that these symptoms are caused by stress. Consequently, they may go unattended for a long time.
Counseling is one alternative to help students who may be experiencing stressful situations. Some colleges offer psychological and academic counseling to students. At Yuba College only academic counseling is available, but all counselors are well-trained and would be able to provide initial psychological support for those students who are experiencing stressful situations outside the academic field. However, if stress is a long-term issue, which may require more than initial support, Yuba College counselors would refer such students to off-campus counseling, said David Farrell, Dean of Student Services.
Students are constantly exposed to stressful situations. However, Archer and Carroll say that “stress is only harmful when it is excessive. Much of the stress that we all experience is helpful and stimulating.” It is normal to experience stress. However, one must not let it take over his or her life.