Stress Levels Reach Tipping Point

April 24, 2014 Features

The assignments pile up, the all-nighters become consecutive, exam dates grow closer and closer; time is encroaching upon us.

At Rollins, students have high expectations for themselves, and in turn, take on a lot each semester: four to five classes (if not more) and at least one extracurricular organization.

Juggling time is challenging on a daily basis, and even more so as the end of the semester approaches. Take a break, and find out a few ways to manage your stress levels and be ready for exam week.

Researchers are becoming more concerned with the stress levels of college students, looking specifically at incoming and current freshman. Statisticians have found that more factors are contributing to the levels of stress, causing a steady decrease in emotional health and stability. Barely over half  (51.9%) of the students rated their emotional health above average or higher; the lowest it has been since the survey was first given 25 years ago.

Students at UCLA conduct an annual study, “America’s Freshmen,” that has been referred to as the “nation’s most comprehensive assessment of college students’ attitudes” by the Los Angeles Times. A short list of questions answered online by incoming freshman and again at the end of the year for first-year students provides information on what attributes are affecting stress levels, the employment status of their parents and guardians, and the amount of financial aid they are depending on to get through four years of higher education—all questions leading researchers to conclude that freshman come into college with a high level of tension.

On top of that, pressure to take lots of classes per semester and be involved in organizations and clubs makes the plate fill up really fast! The information collected in this observational study is reliable, as over 201,000 students are given the survey, from over 280 colleges and universities around the nation. Taking the quiz online provides the students with privacy, confidentiality, and encouragement to be completely honest when answering the questions.

The bad news is, until employment rates increase further and financial aid becomes more generous nation-wide, incoming students will not be calming down in the near future.

But there is good news. Although avoiding stress altogether is impossible, managing stress levels is doable. Stress is defined as a “response to demand that is placed upon you.” The key to managing that demand is time management and clarity of mind. Whether it is sitting by the lake by yourself, hanging out with friends at dinner, treating yourself to a movie, or taking breaks in between studying and doing assignments is necessary.

There are four golden rules to remember during high-strung times like these:

Manage Your Time: Whether you like doing assignments in advance, or doing them last minute, estimate how long you will need for each item on your to-do list. A widespread misconception is that multitasking will help you get more done; however, your work will be haphazard and your stress levels will increase.

Know How You Study Best: Is it with lots of people around you or by yourself? Do you study all subjects one after the other, or categorize them day by day. Re-writing notes is proven to put information into long-term memory more readily than simply reading old notes.

Get Enough Sleep: You might not manage to get a full eight hours every night, but taking naps whenever possible, and getting at least a few hours every night will help your body de-stress, and will energize you to keep working the next day.

Be Realistic with Yourself: Know your potential and work pace. Do not be afraid to put yourself and your academic needs above other things during this last stretch. Have your goal in mind and think of all that awaits at the finish line: good grades, no more homework, and… summer!

We are almost there! Good luck, Tars!

Photo by Scott Cook

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