What Stresses You?

Have you ever had a day, week or month that was too packed, too busy or too stressful?  I am sure the majority of you have.  Colleges seem to thrive on that sort of energy.  For me, I have had a week of non-stop stressors.  After two quizzes, three exams and a few trips out of town, I just need to take a breather and relax.  Many of us probably do not take enough time out of our schedules to really wind down and rest.  Stress will affect everyone differently and it is good to know how to deal with it and reduce it.

A few years back, in 2007, The American Psychological Association found that one-third of people in theUnited Statesreport experiencing extreme levels of stress. To add to that number, the research found an additional one in five people report experiencing high levels of stress 15 or more days per month.  Does that sound familiar?  Maybe you have a month full of exams you need to study for or your work schedule is crammed.  Though the research shows many people have an event in life that take them to their emotional and mental limits, is there a way to define stress for everyone?  For me, it means not having enough hours in the day to get everything done, but a person’s definition of stress is subject to change.  The stressors themselves may change throughout your semester, but the emotional and mental effects of stress can be managed. 

For managing stress, the APA recommends understanding how you stress.  Because everyone experiences stress differently, what causes your stress will differ from the stressors of someone else.  For some, stress may bring about “binge eating” which is defined as eating unusually large amounts of food at one time.  Have you ever been so stressed or upset that you just wanted to eat to find comfort?  I know the feeling has hit me before, and I try to curb my cravings or dig into something healthful, like granola or dried fruit.  It may be helpful to learn what stresses you so you will be able to identify and manage outrageous cravings or eating patterns.

Now that the semester is well underway, you may have found ways to add pieces of home or familiar places to your everyday routine to make the journey to finals smoother.  Though every semester comes with stress, the campus strives to try and make every student feel comfortable.  Personally, when exams are coming up or I know I have a rough week ahead, I will fix a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  A childhood favorite, it always lifts my mood. Figure out what comfort foods you enjoy and treat yourself.   

Taking good care of yourself has many benefits, not only related to stress management, but in many areas of health.  Eating right, getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water can help manage stress, the American Psychological Association reports.  While some levels of stress can be good for you, too much can cause harm, so it a good idea to have a healthy body to make everything more manageable.

So, how do you deal when the pressure gets to be too high?  For me, it is through exercise.  When stress levels get out of control, I take it out at the gym.  Going to the gym keeps me from internalizing all the stressful energy I have. What works for you?

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