76 percent of Kent State students surveyed are stressed

Haley Phillippi & John Synek

Out of 100 Kent State University Students surveyed, 40 percent of students said, when dealing with stress, they use physical activity to relieve stress. Twenty-four percent choose to wait out the stress and hope it goes away.

Only 7 percent of students surveyed said they do not feel stressed out at all, and about 76 percent have experienced symptoms of stress — depression and suicide among them.

Megan Adornetto, a freshman interior design major, says she feels overwhelmed with stress and anxiety because of the amount of schoolwork given in college.

Adornetto is currently enrolled in the Honors College, which makes her classes twice as rigorous as regular classes.

“Last semester, 18 credit hours,” Adornetto said. “This semester, 18 credit hours. I’m going to guess next semester is going to be 18 credit hours at least. On a daily basis, I wake up, go to class … go to studio [where interior design majors work on their projects], do homework, go to sleep at 3 or 4 in the morning every day.”

A former classmate of Adornetto’s at Westlake High School, Christian Petrila is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. He says he rarely ever gets stressed out over schoolwork.

“I’m taking about 16 or 17 credit hours this semester,” Petrila said. “On Mondays and Wednesdays I have [three consecutive classes]. Wednesdays I have to wake up at 8 [a.m.] to get down to TV2 in time for the morning Flash Cast, but my Tuesdays and Thursdays are great; I have one class, it’s done at a quarter to 2 and Fridays I have off … It’s not an overwhelming schedule by any means.”

Adornetto says on average she sleeps about four to five hours a night, while Petrila aims for eight or nine hours. The lack of sleep hurts Adornetto physically and mentally, she said, and she sometimes can’t focus on the task at hand.

Petrila said waking up refreshed isn’t a problem and he is able to focus more on his schoolwork.

Adornetto said she expects next semester will be even more stressful for her. Through conversations with upperclassmen in interior design, she has learned sophomore year is the hardest year for her major and may result in even more all-nighters.

“[For our major], you really don’t sit down and study for tests,” Adornetto said. “We sit in a studio and work on tedious projects for hours upon hours. In high school we didn’t really do a lot of that, and now you do, and it sucks.”

For Petrila, journalism majors do much more writing and are less test-oriented and this can be less stressful for him. “Studying [gives me the most stress] because stressing over not knowing what’s going to be on the test and all that stuff, that would have to be the big thing that gives me problems; that and essays and papers,” Petrila said.

However, both Petrila and Adornetto are able to take time out of their Thursday nights to play on an intramural softball team. Adornetto said she believes softball helped get her mind off school because she was playing the game she loved.

When asked if being around friends and family helped them become less stressed, they said:

Using friends and family as a support system can “sway both ways,” Adornetto said.

Sometimes being around friends and family makes me less stressed, but I also do get more distracted around my friends and classmates while in studio,” she said.

Petrila said using others to reduce his stress “absolutely” works.

“Whether it’s conversation or anything else, just being in the company of others is a great stress reliever.”

Both Petrila and Adornetto can agree on one thing: When the going gets tough, they choose to keep going.

“I try not to focus on the negative or how stressed out I am,” Adornetto said. “If I do, I end up realizing just how stressed I really am, then I just hope that it won’t get the best of me and tell myself not to freak out. Life is too short to get too hung up on the bad, I just try not to let myself think like that.”

Tips to handle stress

People use the word “stress” to relate to anxiety that takes place during everyday life.

“[Stress is] your response either behaviorally or physiologically to something you perceive as threatening, challenging or a loss,” said Robin Joynes, an assistant professor in the psychology department. “Coping and managing stress is vital to living a stress-free life. Anxiety and stress are parts of life that people learn to recognize easily and cope with as they become older and mature.”

Symptoms include difficulty sleeping, upset stomach, elevated heart rate, change in appetite, clenched teeth, frustration, moodiness, muscle aches, low energy and headaches.

Many college students use alternative ways to deal with their stress — such as drugs and alcohol — because they don’t know of the ways to deal with it themselves.

“They might be good for the short term and make you forget, but in the long term, they are not going to be very adaptive,” Joynes said.

Instead, students should first identify what stresses them out then formulate a plan to tackle their stress.

Make goals.

Prioritizing a list of realistic goals and rewarding yourself along the way is a positive method to help reduce stress. Common goals include learning new hobbies, skills or sports, and will help you to explore new things and take your mind off what’s bothering you. Keeping a journal to keep track of your thoughts may help reach those goals.

Eat healthy.

A healthy body can help you handle stress; consequently, not taking care of yourself can cause stress. When students live on their own in college, it can become very easy to let your body go; however, you need to find time to keep yourself healthy. Eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables can help limit the amount of sugars and fats that you put into your body. Exercising several times a week can help students relax.

Remain calm.

When a tough situation occurs, remember to take a step back and take deep breaths.

Sleep well.

Get as much sleep in one day as you can, even short naps will help you feel better.

Plan ahead.

Rest before and after stressful events. Treat yourself to fun, relaxing times. Spend time with your friends and family and create a good support system. Look up to experienced people to find a mentor. Learn to value and love yourself.

Ask for help.

When stress feels like it is too much to handle alone, seeking professional help, whether it is at school, church or clinics, is perfectly normal. Students on campus can visit the DeWeese Health Center and make an appointment to speak with a psychologist about their stress problems.