What is stress


Emotional indicators of stress
Mental indicators of stress
Behavioral indicators of stress
Physical indicators of stress
Stressful lives for students
How can you cope with stress?


What is stress?


Stress is the tension and pressure an individual feels. It can be considered a part of daily life. As a college student you could experience stress while trying to live up to your expectations, adapt to a new environment or make new friends. Stress is not always harmful. A slight amount of stress could also work to push you into action and improve yourself.


However, high stress levels could lower your performance, stop you from enjoying life and create problems in your relationships.


Most of us think stress comes from external factors like family, friends, sickness or school but these factors themselves aren’t stressful events. What makes them stressful is our reactions to them and our opinions. Different people might interpret events in a variety of ways and could show different reactions to stress. This comes to mean, the external factor isn’t enough to term something stress by itself, it is the relationship with the person that makes it stressful.

How do we know there is stress?


Factors indicating that you are stressed can be grouped in four: emotional, mental, behavioral and physical. You might experience one or more than one at the same time.

Emotional indicators of stress


- If you feel worried or tense
- Fearful or ready to be afraid
- If you feel you are worthless, insecure or abandoned
- If you are offended easily and agitated
- If you feel embarrassed fast


Mental indicators of stress


- Lack of self confidence
- Forgetfulness
- Pessimism
- Negative thoughts about the future
- If  your mind is constantly full of thoughts
- Constant daydreaming and inability to focus


Behavioral indicators of stress


- If you find it difficult to make decisions whereas it was easier in the past
- Difficulty in speech
- Laughing loudly or talking in a nervous voice
- Crying for no specific reason
- Acting without thinking of the consequences
- Grinding your teeth
- Increased intake of cigarettes, medicines or alcohol
- Tendency for accidents


Physical indicators of stress


- Oversweating of your body and palms
- Increased heartbeat
- Shivering in the body
- Nervous behavior pattersn
- Dryness of mouth and throat
- Tiring easily
- Visiting the bathroom often
- Sleep disorder / more or less
- Diarrohea, indigestion or vomiting, problems in the digestive system
- Stomach cramps or headaches
- Increased PMS in women
- Aching in your neck and back
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Getting sick often


Stressful lives for students


Both positive and negative events in life can lead to stress. Big changes in life and some outer developments are important factors of stress that urge a person to look for help. Relocating, starting a new school or changing schools, a new job or way of life, marriage, pregnancy, divorce, separation, the death of a loved one, being fired, bankruptcy, chronic diseases can all be considered factors that lead to stress. Some outer effects could be meeting deadlines, competition, financial problems, noise or disappointments.


You might come across the following in your life as a college student. You might reduce stress if you prepare for them in advance:


- Adapting to the speed of life: there could be difficulty in getting back into a disciplined life of studying after just having joined university following years of hard work


- Adapting to a new environment: a new environment and getting used to it or adapting once again after giving a break could be stressful. You could feel stressed because you think you are different while trying to appear like something else or while trying to make others accept you as you are.


- Homesickness: this applies mostly for freshers who are missing their families. Being far from family at times of importance also make one feel this way.


- Disliking your field of study: the negative feelings of disappointment, anger and indecision in students who are studying in fields they did not want to take up. Looking for ways to take up your field of interest and points of failure in doing so all cause tension. Difficulty in choosing a career also contributes to this.


- Disappointment: new students find it particularly disappointing if their new environment does not match with their expectations and what was told to them.


- Loneliness: depressiveness amid confusion while trying to setle in a new environment. Being offended easily and absence of enough support from loved ones could make students feel this way.


- Social activities: either too little or too much. Difficulties in finding and fitting in with school clubs and outer-school places of interest.


- Friends: feeling uncapable of finding a group of friends or feeling upset about being left out.


- Boyfriend/girlfriend: peer pressure about flirting could make a person feel insecure. Breakups would cause disappointment and upset.


- Delaying studying: constantly delaying studying and projects thinking that there is enough time and increased tension near deadlines.


- Balancing: difficulty in balancing studying and play.


- Grades: difference between high school and college success could cause frustration. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Pressure from surroundings to succeed could also be a factor of tension.


- Academic pressure: Increasing pressure and the fear of not being able to live up to expectations. This could make some students quit completely.


- Overperfectionism: thinking you need to be the best. Expecting too much from yourself.


- Drug use: trying and getting addicted to drugs, smoking, drinking just to impress others or to feel better.


- Conflict of values: new lifestyles could be conflicting with your moral values. Identity loss while swaying between the new and old.


- Financial problems: not being able to keep up with costs.


- Holiday pressure: not being able to make good use of short holidays in between. Especially students without families find it difficult to cope.


- Working at an early stage in life


- Working while studying: for various reasons you might spend more time for work then studying, this would cause tension


- Graduation: insecurities about how to proceed in life. Fears of starting “real” life.


- Panic over jobs and the future: the scramble to find a job, prepare a resume, learn interview techniques and the fear of unemployment. Discontent about alternatives and indecisiveness.


How can you cope with stress?


People tend to relive events in their minds, complaining about their situation rather than find solutions to their problems. This makes them feel helpless.

Our thoughts and how we perceive events shape our feelings and behavior. Most of us make mistakes while thinking. For instance, we generalize things based on a single event. We convince ourselves that we know how the other person is feeling. We think our happiness is based on the actions of others and we try to change them. We would attain success faster if we tried to change ourselves rather than others.


We should first determine which parts of our lives are stressful, what is specifically disturbing us in that area, which feelings we are experiencing and how we are reacting to them. We can then think of what we can do to change this situation. This would be an important step.


Many types of stress can be changed, eliminated and reduced. You can try the following to lower your stress level:


- Strengthen positive thoughts about yourself and focus on your good points and achievements. Tell yourself that you can handle the situation and you will do the best you can.


- Do not forget that it is important to live in the present. Constantly thinking about the past or future prevents you from enjoying the present.


- Having to make decisions is also stressful and we constantly delay them. Make a list of all the things you need to decide on and see what information you need and how you can obtain it. Take up your options one at a time and weigh the pros and cons.


- Ambiguity creates stress. Gather information about the unkown areas of your life.


- Our values are important in the decisions we make. Stress becomes unavoidable when we are stuck in between. Review your values and go over what you feel is important for you in life (success, health, family, friends, self respect, freedom, etc)


- Most of us feel unhappy in the face of conflict because we all dream of leading problem-free lives. We question why things happen to us. But there are other realities that we need to accept. For instance, it is not possible for us to make everyone happy or for everyone to love us. We need the courage to see and change what