Feeling flustered?

Elizabeth Rund

Dealing with stress key to surviving everyday life

Read Chapter 11, review notes for a psychology quiz, finish the PowerPoint presentation comparing the writing styles of Melville and Twain, complete questions one through 25 in Chapter 6 of the text for modeling algebra and look up information for a research paper.

Sound familiar?

It’s commonly referred to as being “stressed out,” and it often starts to pick up toward the end of the semester.

“I think people get too stressed and make a big deal out of everything,” said Edder Moran, freshman electrical engineering major.

Senior English major Becky Allred agreed.

“It seems like people always stress about the small stuff,” she said, adding that working through everything a little at a time throughout the semester can decrease stress. Getting to know your professors – so that if you ever need help, they know who you are – is also helpful, Allred said.

Stressed … What?

At one point or another, almost all students feel the staggering workload they so carefully balanced has come crashing down. But what is stress, and how does it affect the lives of students?

According to the American Institute of Stress (www.stress.org), there is no absolute definition of stress. Hans Selye first used the term in 1936, defining it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.”

He conducted many experiments on lab animals, exposing them to extremes of light and dark, and heat and cold. Selye discovered that the stress or strain caused the development of several diseases seen in humans, including heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.

Although the definition of the term has undergone some minor tweaking through the years, doctors agree that some stress every now and then can motivate someone. However, too much stress can be problematic. In some cases, stress can hinder a person’s ability to function.

A little relief

Everything in life is potentially stressful, and recognizing extreme stress can be difficult.

“Know yourself well enough to know when you need to stop and take a break,” Allred said.

Indeed, knowing yourself is half the battle of relieving stress.

Healthwise.com and WebMD both give tips for relieving stress. The first step: Find out what’s causing the commotion. People can do this by keeping a stress journal to write down things that happen and how they deal with them. WebMD even offers a stress test on its site.

Both sites give helpful tips for reducing stress, which include eating well, getting a massage, practicing a hobby, playing with pets, taking a walk, doing yoga, volunteering, getting a good night’s sleep and easing up on caffeine. Doctors also recommend exercising, which raises the production of endorphins that make people happy.

Moran suggested taking a break and doing something completely different from what you were doing.

“When I get stressed, I take a break and go to the rec and swim,” he said. “I just try to waste some time there.”

Allred suggested getting a little moral support.

“Never be afraid to ask for help,” Allred said. “There are always people willing to help you with everything from a research paper to being there to talk to.”

Contact features correspondent Elizabeth Rund at [email protected].