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Stress: How to Manage It

By Kaylee Schuermann

Kaitlin Rodriguez is stressed out.

Stress plays a large role in college students’ everyday lives—which is why they need to know how to handle it.

“Stress is feeling like you can’t cope with a perceived threat,” said Missy Reynolds, a Health Promotion and Exercise Science professor at Waldorf.

Stress can also be any change you encounter, the inability to cope with problems, loss of emotional control, or absence of inner peace.  

Classes, sports, clubs and the many other activities that college students are involved in can consume a lot of their free time. Too much of these things can cause stress.

Stress comes in two forms: eustress and distress. Eustress is positive stress—like getting ready for a competition or studying for a test. This type of stress pushes you to perform better. Distress is negative stress. This can be subdivided into two types: acute and chronic. Acute stressors are one-time things that one can quickly get over, like a flat tire. Chronic stressors are things that are present day-in and day-out, such as money problems.

Reynolds recalls the frequent stressors she sees in her students: money problems, not enough time, extracurricular activities and feeling overwhelmed or unprepared.  

Some of the most common stress symptoms college students encounter are headaches, lack of motivation, feeling exhausted, disturbing dreams or nightmares, difficulty remembering things, bad mood/quick temper, negative self talk, difficulty focusing, inability to prioritize and procrastination.

Believe it or not, continuous distress can make people sick. This is because the body’s hormones negatively respond to distress and weaken its immune system—allowing it to become susceptible to illnesses.  

To prevent the previous symptoms, Reynolds suggests prioritizing time management, meditation, breathing, yoga and exercise.

Kaden Hintz, a Waldorf hockey player, said one of his favorite ways to cope with stress is to talk to his mother. Naomi Alvarez, a Warrior track and cross country runner, likes to take a shower when she is stressed because it makes her feel like all of her problems have gone away.

However, these coping mechanisms are not for everyone. There are many other ways to deal with stress, such as getting a massage or listening to music.

Whether you choose to listen to music, meditate or talk it out, Reynolds firmly believes that as long as what you do is a positive coping mechanism, it will take down your stress level and help you relax.