Stress is an individual’s fight-or-flight reaction to challenges. Although it can manifest differently among individuals, the National Institute of Mental Health points out that everybody feels stress at some point in their lives, irrespective of gender, age or circumstance (Cited in Patenall, 2021). However, a university life is exciting time, which is full of new challenges that repeatedly drive students to expand their horizons. Although some of the experiences are thrilling, others can be considered stressful. Poor stress management can negatively affect student’s learning, health and wellbeing. Therefore, students should effectively manage stress and the feeling of anxiety and nervous while in the university.
The Impact of Poor Stress Management on Students’ Learning, Health and Well-being
The unending research about stress related to education has shown negative impact on students’ capacity to learn, academic performance, employment attainment, quality and quantity of sleep, mental health, physical health, and substance use outcomes. According to XXX, stress leads to the development of various psychological health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. It can also lead to physical states such as chronic pain. Therefore, increasing students’ stress-management abilities and skills is an imperative target for change.
Extreme anxiety can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. The condition is very common among university students and it is characterized by physical signs like muscle tension and shaking, racing thoughts, and feelings of imminent doom, excess worry, fear, and irritability.
Depression is a psychological health condition usually caused by a mixture of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. A lot of stress hormones make individuals, especially the busy college students, more prone to depression.
Anxiety is also connected to sleep disturbances. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America considers sleep problems to cause or increase anxiety.
Chronic Muscle Pain
Stress can cause continuous physical conditions for some students. These can be chronic neck aches, stomach aches, backaches, and headaches. The National Institutes of Health commends practicing meditation and yoga to relax an individual’s body and release muscle tension.
Drug and Substance Abuse
Some students start using alcohol or drugs to help them in stress management. However, such are dangerous coping strategies and can cause substance abuse. In 2018, research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found out that 28 percent of university students were binge drinkers two weeks before the research was performed.
The Effective means of Managing Stress, Feeling Anxious, or Nervous for University Students
Having anxiety while in university is very common. A 2018 assessment by the American College Health Association revealed that 63% of university students in the US reported irresistible anxiety and 23% reported having a diagnosis by a psychological health professional for anxiety (Cited in Broderick, 2021). However, there are various ways to solve the problem. To start with, students can seek help in new friends (Broderick, 2021). Understanding that they are not alone is one thing, but looking for a friend who is also facing the same emotions can help one to feel supported. This can be realized by joining some clubs or volunteering on school events. Secondly, they can reach out to their family and friends back at home. While you’re working on building a new social circle, remember you can always lean on your family or existing friends. Communication with a parent is an important factor in a student’s health and well-being in their transition to university.
Thirdly, they should make their surrounding feel like home. Retreat to a comfortable and familiar an apartment can help one to unwind after a stressful day. Moreover, university students should learn to practice self-care (Broderick, 2021). Self-care is not all about pedicures but it looks different for everyone. It involves anything that helps one feel their best both physically and emotionally. It can be regular, good night’s sleep, or even watching a movie. Additionally, the students should ensure that they are always busy (Broderick, 2021). Unless the source of their anxiety is having much on their plate, being busy can help reduce homesickness and meet new people. Also, they should be realistic about their course load. A university is very different from high school, and it can be difficult to understand how challenging will be a class or program. Therefore, it will be important to re-evaluate the course that students undertake.
Further, university students should try to understand their triggers. Understanding what triggers their anxiety can help them manage it. According to Broderick (2021), once students realize what is setting off their anxiety, they can start finding ways to manage or avoid the triggers. Anything from lifestyle choices to what is happening at home or school can be triggers. Drinking a lot of alcohol or caffein, staying up too late, taking a diet that consist of less nutrient-rich food can also lead to anxiety and make a person feel pretty crappy. Finally, they should seek professional support on or off campus (Broderick, 2021). Occasional anxiety can be something to manage individually, but most people find that professional conduct gives a major relief. Most universities have resources to help students manage stress and navigate the shift to campus and university life. These include peer counselling, study support, and mental health services. Some off-campus options include talking with healthcare team for a referral, finding telemedicine psychological health services, among others.
Stress is one of the many challenges faced by university students. Short-term stress can help students raise a grade, write an essay, or pursue a desired career opportunity. However, long-term stress, if not addressed can have harmful side effects. While the majority of university stress stems from coursework, other contributors include family, friends, and work. Also, anxiety is very common among university students, but that does not imply that they should take it lying down. Being involved in different activities, leaning on loved ones, and making new friends can assist. Students can also reach out to local therapist or campus counsellors who can recommend treatment or coping strategies.
Broderick, T. (2021). The Student’s Guide to Managing Stress | BestColleges. Retrieved 23 March 2022, from https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/balancing-stress/
Patenall, E. (2021). Tips for Dealing with Anxiety at University. Retrieved 23 March 2022, from https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/tips-dealing-anxiety-university
Pascoe, M. C., Hetrick, S. E., & Parker, A. G. (2020). The impact of stress on students in secondary school and higher education, International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 25:1, 104-112, DOI: 10.1080/02673843.2019.1596823