What is Stress?
Stress can mean a lot of different things. It can mean physical pressure or force; emotional strain; mental tension; a specific response to a situation (such as fear or pain. Generally, when students talk about stress, they mean the pressure they feel from a variety of sources. Although some stress is good for you (in fact, if you felt no stress at all it would be hard to get motivated to do anything), too much stress can cause problems both physically and psychologically. Identifying the types of stress can help you figure out how to manage your stress levels.
The Causes of Stress:
Academic stress is caused by the work you need to do in school. You may feel stress about grades, a tough professor, procrastination, deadlines, and future goals tied to your academic performance-What should you major in? How will you get into law school? Stress is a normal response to all of the responsibilities you have as a college student. In fact, research has shown that people who don’t feel any stress about their college work tend not to perform well on exams. But too much academic stress can lead to academic anxiety, which we will discuss later in this module.
Social and Family Stress
Dealing with other people can be stressful. Meeting new people on your first days of college, negotiating study groups-even positive social situations like playing team sports or even falling in love can cause stress. Family relationships can also cause stress in several ways. You might feel pressured to do well to make your family proud, you might be worried about a sick family member, or you may feel stress because your college work is cutting into your time with your family. However, your social and family support may also help you cope with the stress you are feeling.
Let’s face it, going to college is expensive. When students begin to handle their own finances, it often results in stress. Students who attend college while working full time feel the financial strain of trying to juggle both a job and their academic work. The average college student has several thousand dollars of credit card debt, and student loans as well. No wonder finances are a common stressor for students.
No matter which of the above types of stress you are facing, learning to recognize and manage your stress levels are skills that will help you throughout life. The activity below will help you identify your stress and introduce strategies for coping with it.