Written by Harnoor Bhatti
The word “stress” is often used nonchalantly when talking about a difficult day at work or when someone simply has a bad day. However, the effects of stress are much more severe for college students and can actually damage one’s quality of life if not taken seriously.
According to a research paper published by Harvard Health Publishing, stress is “the near-instantaneous sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses [that] helps someone to fight [a] threat off or flee to safety .” The college lifestyle is not without its negative connotations. Along with the pressure to maintain perfect grades, students are expected to join extracurriculars, volunteer, gain internships, win awards, and conduct research. While a healthy amount of stress can help push students to become more alert and improve their academic performances, many students tend to display the symptoms of extreme stress instead . Symptoms of extreme stress include sweating, increased heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tension, headaches, and fatigue. Not only does too much stress negatively affect the human body, but too much stress also takes an emotional toll on some students. These symptoms include hostility, helplessness, and loneliness. In order to combat the feeling of stress, some students tend to binge eat while others may stop eating altogether. In certain cases, students may also turn to drug or alcohol abuse along with erratic sleeping habits. In addition to such unhealthy habits, stress may also affect students’ academic goals overall by causing memory loss, loss of concentration, and a negative outlook of the future.
For some, the transition to college itself is also extremely difficult and stress-inducing. College students must face financial burdens, the concept of living with strangers, difficult work schedules, social obligations, and new levels of independence as well. Coupled with these societal experiences are the pressures to remain at the top in a competitive environment, unfortunately causing the current suicide rates of college-aged students to be three times higher than they were in 1950 .
Thankfully, there are a variety of simple steps that students themselves can take in order to lessen everyday stresses. Getting enough sleep is a major step that should not be neglected, as getting a healthy amount of sleep can build a better immune system and have a sharper and clearer mind for exams. Another step that should not be neglected is eating well. By maintaining a healthy diet, college students can increase their focus and energy, both of which are greatly needed in a high-stress environment. Exercising is also effective in alleviating stress since it is a great way to burn calories and stay fit, and is a healthy outlet to cool down the brain after cram sessions for midterms. As for habits students should cut down on, coffee is something many college students cannot live without. However, by regulating the amount of caffeine they intake everyday, one can ensure that there is not a major energy crash later on. Finally, procrastination is something that almost all college students are guilty of and is often the reason there are many late-night study sessions. By keeping up with deadlines and finishing work ahead of time, students can have a relaxed mindset when tests and big projects come around. By following these basic guidelines, not only can students reduce some stress, but they can also look forward to a more positive college experience in general.
 “Understanding the stress response.” Harvard Medical School, March, 2011
 Sanders, Robert. “Researchers find out why some stress is good for you.” Berkeley News, 2013
 Henriques, Gregg. “The College Student Mental Health Crisis.” Psychology Today, 2014
Baghurst, Timothy. “An Examination of Stress in College Students Over the Course of a Semester.” SAGE Journals, Nov. 14, 2013