Stress and all its friends

No matter how hard you try, stress will always find a way into your life, as horrible as that sounds. As a university student, this is even more true given the seemingly endless papers, readings, midterms, and exams you’ll run into over your four-or-so years of schooling.stress

That, combined with the fact that you’re probably also busy with school, jobs, hobbies and trying to maintain some form of relationship and social life. It can be a real struggle to keep yourself calm and keep the panic at bay.

Mind you, sometimes a little stress isn’t bad for you. It can be a great motivator, and that’s why it’s important to learn how to balance it.

If you’re like me and suffer from severe procrastination, stress is basically the only way I’m able to get things done. But then there are times when it gets a little too out of hand and takes over completely. This is when panic kicks in.

You get flustered and worried and start to think, “is this five per cent even worth it at this point? Should I just give up?”

Don’t do it, you will regret it.

That’s when you know you have too much stress. It starts eating away at you and makes you question your entire purpose of being at university. Eventually it can work it’s way under your skin until you completely avoid courses and start to give up. It’s really tough to deal with.

As hard as it may be at the time, you have to try your best to not let stress take over the control you have on your life.

There are a ton of ways you can cut stress out of your university experience. Most of them have to do with the way you treat yourself.

Are you getting enough sleep? Eating enough proper food and not depending on ramen noodles and KD? Surrounding yourself with good people?

All of these factors will contribute to your stress levels and we have yet to even touch on school, because before you focus on your work, it’s best to take care of yourself.

Getting the right amount of sleep and not pulling as many all-nighters as you’re used to will be sure to cut down on stress. Mind you, there will come a time when staying up late to finish a paper or hang out with your friends until dawn will be inevitable, and that’s okay.

Suprisingly, food has a big impact on stress. In a newsletter released by Harvard Medical School in February of 2012, studies found that there was a direct correlation between stress and the need to overeat, and generally it’s the food that isn’t very good for your health. Initially, stress has the ability to suppress appetite and stop you from eating entirely, but if it persists, “numerous studies…have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both.”  Because we start freaking out about something, we just want to eat anything in sight — and generally it’s something we find comfort in; chips, chocolate, pasta, and bread.

So instead of helping yourself to a big plate of lasagna and a bag of sour keys, next time you’re mentally in pain about your work or anything going south in your life, try getting in some protein, fruits and veggies before you jump right into a tub of ice cream to console yourself.

Another great thing you can do to keep stress at bay is to surround yourself with people who will help keep you happy and keep your best interest in mind. Sitting in your dorm or common area and having a good laugh with some good people is always great for your health. It helps take your mind off the not-so-fantastic things happening in your life and is sure to give you a little bit of motivation that things aren’t always so bad.

Now that you have a few personal stress-fighters up your sleeve, there are always things that you can do academically to help decrease the weight that you feel on your shoulders.

Try talking to your T.A’s or professors about assignments that you’re having a particularly hard time with, and sometimes they might be willing to give you an extension or advice on how you might be able to push past the problems you might be facing with it.

You may also want to look into taking a lighter course load. By taking four or even three classes instead of the typical five, you allow yourself a little more free time which you can use to focus on other things going on in your life (like a job) or even have more time to work on the classes you are taking. It isn’t as big of a deal as you would assume it would be, and not as uncommon as you’d think. It gives you some extra space to breathe and lets you live a little.

A big contender, however, will of course come from procrastination. That’s an entirely different beast on it’s own. It’s definitely hard to get past, but once you work your way around it, procrastination can be tamed and handled and overcome. It just takes some practice.

Like I said, stress will follow you wherever you go, and sometimes it will seem like it’s beating you down. Try to make friends with it, it might do you a little good and give you the push you need to get things done.


Rachel Sterzai, Opinion Editor 

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