College 101: How to relieve stress

Elizabeth Wood, Staff Reporter

Stress is in the air this week as midterm deadlines begin to loom over student’s heads. Various assignments and tests accumulate on top of desks and inside book bags that only their owners can seem to sort through.

However, students do not have to trudge through stress alone.

Graduate assistant Emmanuel Ayiku said students are welcome to come to the Student Success Center if they need someone to talk to.

“This is what we are here for: to help student reach their goals, their dreams, whatever it is,” Ayiku said.

When students come in stressed, the first thing the graduate assistants do is listen to the students, Ayiku said.

Afterward, they try to pinpoint what could be causing the student stress, he said. If the stressor happens to be time management, they try to figure out if a student has too little or too much time.

Ayiku said once the student understands what is causing stress, the Student Success Center helps that student find time to relax and identify important dates and assignments.

Aside from helping students recognize what causes stress, the graduate assistants also help students find ways to relieve stress.

Ayiku said his advice is to try to find someone to talk to.

When someone is stressed, he said, they need a place to release it. Some students may use alcohol or other substances to help reduce the feeling of stress, but once it wears off the stress is still there.

“The most important thing is to talk, and I feel like, in this generation, we don’t have that freedom, that openness, to speak about our feelings,” Ayiku said. “People don’t know how to say ‘I feel like this,’ and I feel like that is extremely important. Students should be able to go to someone [that cares] about them and about their situation.”

Ayiku said the first step is to find someone to be able to open up to.

Another thing that helps alleviate stress is making a list of things that need to be done, or students can write down the top ten things that need to get done for the day, Ayiku says.

While talking to someone can help relieve stress, there are other activities that can help relieve stress as well.

Junior Tearny Sherwin, a major in social science teaching, said she likes to take it slow while she works on assignments. She said she takes breaks while doing school work to avoid getting too stressed.

Chavionne Thomas, a freshman double majoring in psychology and foreign language, said she likes to drink lots of tea and takes time to relax and watch a movie.

Although taking some much-needed breaks or ‘me time’ helps alleviate stress, sometimes the best course of action is to find a nice place to study.

Daniel Vecker, a junior theatre major, said he likes to find a place where he can be alone. “I will, basically, find a empty computer lab and have at it,” he said, “but that’s because I cannot be around other people when I do things, [so] I [will] grab all my things and I go somewhere else.”

Merri Bork, a sophomore theatre major, said she likes to go to Booth Library. She said she goes there so she can focus on her work, distraction free.

In general, stress is perceived as something that should be avoided, but stress is not all bad. According to Psychology Today, research has suggested that exposure to moderate levels of stress can act as a vaccine and make a person stronger and better at handling stress. In fact, Richard Dienstbier’s theory of mental toughness explains these findings. Dienstbier’s theory states that experiencing these moderate levels of stress, with recovery time in between, can make people mentally and physically tough and resilient to future stressors.

While stress can be a big factor in student life, there is still hope.

Ayiku said it is important for students to remember there are people who care about them, who students can turn to when they are feeling overwhelmed.

Even so, he said there is one thing that can help reduce stress.

“Remember the reason why you started,” Ayiku said. “If you can always remember why you started and what you’re chasing after, you’ll find the motivation to chase after what you want in life.”

Elizabeth Wood can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].