Stress and College Life
To paraphrase an oft seen bumper sticker, “If you’re not feeling any stress, you’re not paying attention.”
This fall some of you may have received more than one call from your son or daughter complaining about all the midterms, the noise on the hall, or the difficulty of juggling social demands while keeping up with homework and class.
Learning to navigate stress – even dance with it – is one of the tasks of becoming a well-functioning adult. But how your student ultimately comes to master this dance may look as varied as the foxtrot, a ballet, or the Macarena.
Those of you with two or more children have come to appreciate that an upset that runs like water off a duck’s back (no pun intended) for child #1, may seem like a levee breach to child #2. Maybe your first child thrives on stress, while your other child needs to regularly recharge his batteries through creative activity, athletics, or walks in the woods.
While going through school, each student is learning his or her own rhythms, needs and breaking points. Pushing up against those limits and finding ways to manage and relieve stress is a part of the college learning experience. Hopefully, healthy ways. (More about this in a later column.)
Unless we are the Bionic Woman or Man, we all do have a limit, after which further stress stops motivating us and instead reduces our capacity to learn and perform. The following are some warning signs that say, “Look Out, Danger Ahead!”
- Frequent Illness
- Poor Concentration or Forgetfulness
- Crying Spells
- Withdrawing from or snapping at others
While a certain amount of stress is inevitable, some personality traits amplify stress. A tendency toward worrying, perfectionism or low self-esteem can turn everyday challenges into chronic and more serious problems.
If you son or daughter complains to you about stress, you might consider suggesting one or more of the following:
- Engage in activities that re-energize them
- Reward themselves for completed work by treating themselves to a pleasurable activity
- If appropriate, consult with the Teaching and Learning Center (68 PLC) for help with study skills, time management & test preparation
The Counseling Center staff often work with students who are feeling overwhelmed by stress. We offer not only stress reduction tools, but a deeper opportunity to gear down the stress-producing engines of perfectionism or low self-esteem.
Students can access our services by dropping in to our center 1 – 4, Monday through Friday, or calling us at 541-346-3227. While this drop in meeting can be healing in itself, it also can introduce students to other useful campus resources. When needed, it can be a first step toward receiving ongoing counseling on campus or in the community.