On National Stress Day, take time to reflect on causes, cures
It’s ironic that there is an institution, unaffiliated with Rutgers, in New Brunswick called The Stress Factory. College often seems to be synonymous with stress, due to classes, relationships, clubs and more. Still there are plenty of ways to combat the pressures we face everyday. There’s no better time than today, National Stress Day, to explore the topic a little bit more.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines stress as “a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious. Stress can be positive (e.g., preparing for a wedding) or negative (e.g., dealing with a natural disaster). The symptoms may be physical or emotional." Forty-five percent of college students that seek counseling report stress as a problem, according to the American Psychological Association.
It’s not hard to see where stress may pop up in college life, from midterms to a presentation in class. Balancing school and a job, commuting or competing in a sport are all plenty of other ways students can be stressed outside of the classroom. This is all without taking into account all of the unplanned occurrences that life throws at us. Familial, financial and even legal issues can create and amplify stress. National Stress Day also falls in an interesting spot in the semester.
This time in the academic year is often seen as a reprieve, post-midterms and still a little while away from finals. Yet, unlike many college students, Rutgers students haven’t had any designated days off to this point.
Mica Finehart, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, explained the challenges that arise at this time of year and how they stretch to the end of the semester.
“I would say that it’s a combination of just having a lot of work, and having been working consistently for a really long time. Now it’s coming to the end of the semester where your papers are due and your finals are coming up, so you have to do so much research,” Finehart said.
Figuratively speaking “your body just needs to explode, because there’s a lot of internal things that are trying to come out," Finehart said. She also advocated for a fall break.
Explanations aside, what are some tangible tips for someone trying to manage this stress? Well, the CDC offers a few suggestions. Getting more sleep, exercising regularly and maintaining a balanced diet are all ways they suggest coping with stress. Another practice they encourage is taking breaks, whether it be from an assignment or from watching the news. It’s easy to forget that often times the solution to stress is to step back from constantly working and to take time to reflect. Of course, they also suggest to talk to someone about the stress you may feel from friends and family to a counselor or therapist. Rutgers also has plenty of resources aimed at alleviating stress, from community programming to CAPS.
“I go to the gym a lot. I really release a lot of stress there," said Julia Hjalte, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. She also made note of some ways that professors stress her out regarding exams. “Putting trick questions on exams for no reason to make them extra hard” and “not giving you study guides of what will be on the exam” were a few of the things she mentioned.
Stress can affect everyone differently, so none of the tips are foolproof, and no experience regarding stress may be completely shared. There’s a clear difference between stress regarding one specific event and chronic stress or anxiety. Still, both require showing compassion and patience to deal with, whether inward or outward.