A nap, two Tylenol, three Our Fathers

Tara Pringle

Religious students deal better with stress

Sophomore communications major Jacob Ley leads the praise team during a Navigators meeting in room 137 Bowman Hall. The Navigators is a faith based ministry where members support each other through Bible studies, meetings and helping one another through s

Credit: Andrew popik

To cope with stress, Brock Kertoy doesn’t use exercise, cigarettes or coffee.

He uses religion.

“Religion gives you hope,” said Kertoy, a junior business management major. “I just naturally smile beause I have hope.”

The Higher Education Research Institute at University of California-Los Angeles found in its 2004 study that spiritually inclined students tend to be happier than students who have no religious involvement.

The institute surveyed more than 3,600 third-year college students across the country and found that 77 percent of college students pray and 78 percent discuss religion with friends.

Also, students who participate in religious activities are less likely to feel overwhelmed during college. Religious activities include reading the Bible, joining religious organizations or attending services.

Alexander Astin, co-principal investigator for the study, said now that they know there’s a correlation, the next question to answer is whether spirituality actually causes a person to be more mentally stable.

David Fresco, assistant psychology professor at Kent State, said he participated in a study with a graduate student a few years ago to test a similar theory. They studied students in two groups — those who had strong beliefs and religious participation and those who only had strong beliefs.

In the end, Fresco said, students who had both strong beliefs and religious participation were slightly healthier than the other group.

Fresco also noted another study that was done that compared people of varying degrees of faith. Fundamentalists, or those who are firm in their faith, were the healthiest both physically and mentally. Athiests, people who believe there is no creator, were the second healthiest. Agnostics, someone who does not acknowledge religion, are the least healthiest.

“I believe the active ingredient is walking the walk,” said Fresco, who is an athiest. “It may help you persevere. Maybe faith helps you find the courage to face something. At the end of the day, you still have to face the problem.”

Some students said they don’t believe the results with regard to their situations.

“It’s possible,” said Jason Cherry, sophomore history major. “But I’m fine without religion. I think I’m better off.”

Cherry said he was raised as a Christian but became an atheist during his freshman year.

Other students said the results were accurate in their cases.

Jenny Clouse, freshman business administration major, is involved with the campus Christian organization The Dive. She described it as “a student organization that challenges students to get to know Jesus personally and to walk with him every day.”

“I don’t really consider myself to be spiritual or religious as society defines these terms,” Clouse said. “I guess I see the terms ‘religious’ and ‘spiritual’ being socially defined as someone who lives a good life and follows a bunch of rules. My relationship with God is much more than a bunch of rules.

“On my own, I still worry just as much as anyone else and I’m really negative,” Clouse said. “But if I let God take over, he changes my attitudes. I’m a better student by his power.”

Autumn Ritchie, senior English major, said she considers herself a spiritual person. She is involved with Impact Movement, a national religious student organization.

“I think if it hadn’t been for my faith I would have quit a long time ago,” Ritchie said. “I trust in God to get me through school.”

She said she used to be moody and pessimistic but now the key is “giving your burdens to God so you’re not bogged down anymore.”

Kertoy said he had difficulty adjusting to college life his freshman year before turning to religion.

“I remember how lost and scared I was. You could call me depressed. When I accepted Christ, a huge burden lifted. It was sweet,” Kertoy said.

Now he attends church regularly and is a member of The Dive.

“I can keep things in perspective now,” Kertoy said. “It keeps me level-headed. But if I don’t trust God, I could be stressed out. If I didn’t have God, I don’t know where I’d be.”

Contact enterprise reporter Tara Pringle at [email protected].