Undergraduates struggle with stress

Photo by Leslie Calderon/The Guardsman

By Dannie Hawkins
The Guardsman 

Class, homework, studying, getting to and from class, working to afford all of it and then trying to carve out a moment of peace is the new normal for City College students striving to succeed in a fast paced, unrelenting semester.

According to a 2008 survey conducted by the Associated Press, one in five undergraduate students are constantly stressed, so much so that they are even too stressed to do schoolwork or participate in social activities.

The survey says roughly the same amount of students considered dropping out of school in the three months prior to the study due to their high stress levels.

“It’s hard trying to find a balance between personal activities, work, and finals,” Sarah Short, a City College dance major, said. “Especially because I have a show tomorrow, three shows next weekend and rehearsal every day. I spend eight hours a day at school.”

A 2009 Associated Press college stress and mental health poll found that more than 70 percent of more than 2,200 college students across 40 colleges and universities are most stressed about schoolwork and grades more than financial woes.

“There’s a lot of work to prepare yourself for and the teachers really crack down on you,” psychology major Chloe Maciel said.

And a late 2011 national college health survey conducted by the American College Health Association found that 91 percent of female college students feel overwhelmed.

“I work, have to deal with family stuff, and all my finals are around the same time,” student Meilani Mitose said.

Full time student and part time worker, Andrei Khartchenko, a computer science major, does not receive financial aid and pays for all of his classes through his job.

Kathleen Burick instructs students in the Beginning Yoga class in the Wellness Canter on Friday, Nov. 30. The Physical Education department offers classes such as yoga that can aid students in alleviating stress. Photo by Leslie Calderon/The Guardsman

“More students have been scheduling appointments with counselors lately,” Health Center worker and City College student Phillip Chang said. “Many are feeling anxious.”

Though having stress is common in the life of the college student, there are healthy ways to alleviate the pressure and maintain mental balance in the midst of a demanding academic career.

“I take yoga here at the college,” Kimmie Fountain said. “Breathing meditations really help.”

In 2010 J. David Forbes, a Nashville, Tenn. physician specializing in stress management, said in a My Everyday Health article that getting proper rest is the most important thing a college student can do in order to manage stress.

“As long as our available energy exceeds our tension level, then we’re in an okay state,” he said. “But if energy is low and tensions are higher, then that can result in a state of anxiety, depression, and feeling overwhelmed.”

A great way to relieve stress is exercising.

A Mayo Clinic article, “Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress,” says that virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever by amping the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.

“When I can, I try to take at least five minutes a day to clear my mind,” architecture major Kimmie Fountain said.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America finds that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.

“I practice Chinese internal martial arts, like tai chi,” full-time student Raphael Zanders-McWeil said. “It definitely relieves stress.”

Aside from taking care of your body, proper time management is key to alleviating stress.

Follow Dannie on Twitter: @DannieDoll

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