Through most of our school years, from elementary through high school, we are guided through everything that we have needed to do. We are guided by our parents and our teachers who have helped us along the way as we have begun to prepare for adulthood and college. Students sometimes have trouble adjusting to college because it is such a drastic change. College comes with a lot of stress due to so much change happening very quickly. This stress affects college students physically, mentally, and academically.
High levels of stress can take a heavy toll on your body and can lead to physical symptoms that can impact the way that many students perform. Everyone always has some kind of stress within them, caused by sources such as family and friends, work, or even school. These all require a lot of dedicated time and can place a heavy pressure on students as they try to manage everything on their plate. Students of all ages experience stress, college students in particular face a lot of stress throughout their college transition due the many changes happening at once and because they are trying to handle their many obligations and responsibilities.
Everyone at school is there because they are working towards succeeding. With this effort to succeed come many assignments, exams, having to work, and managing time between family and friends. All of these factors can become a very overwhelming due to this transition. Stress affects your body in many ways if it is not managed correctly and can also lead to many health problems. A few of the common physical effects that stress can cause to your body are frequent headaches, muscle tension or pain, and sleep problems. These problems occur when your stress hormones are constantly responding all day, many days in a row, putting your health at a serious risk. Stress can trigger and intensify tension headaches.
Stress can also make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, which can lead to insomnia. Both of these can take a negative effect on the lives and paths of college students, causing students to begin having trouble keeping up with their many responsibilities. Stress does not only cause negative physical symptoms but can cause overall health problems too.
Stress can play a part in weakening your immune system’s defenses, allowing you to be more vulnerable to illness’ and infections. A few health problems that can be caused if stress were to be left unmanaged are high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Out of these few health problems, obesity is the most common with college students because since there is a lot of change happening and students are just beginning to gain independency, students sometimes have a hard time adjusting and refer to eating as a stress coping mechanism. This is where the phrase “freshman 15” comes in. This is a phrase that refers to college freshman gaining at least 15 pounds during their first year due to everything that they are trying to adjust to during this time and using eating as their way to manage these feelings. Although stress is a natural physical reaction to different events and life experiences, learning how to manage it is very important in order to protect ourselves and our health.
Not only can stress cause physical health disruptions, but it can also affect students mentally and behaviorally. Mentally, it can affect students by giving them anxiety, a lack of motivation or focus, feeling overwhelmed, and causing depression. These feelings are all very common for students and are experienced due to leaving home, feeling pressure from grades and exams, trying to balance working, and the expensive classes and books.
Aside from impacting students mentally, stress can also cause students begin changing behaviorally. Students can begin to socially withdraw from friends and family, begin drug or alcohol abuse, and overeat or become malnourished. These behavior changes can really hurt the way that students perform, making it hard for them to do well. By separating themselves from family and friends, students can begin to feel isolated and increase their chances of mental illness such as depression.
Since these students are now independent, they can also choose to turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism to help relieve them from their many responsibilities. Health issues such as obesity or malnourishment can also begin to arise due to students using this mechanism to help cope with their stress. Chronic stress can wear people down very quickly, negatively affecting the students in their entirety.
With so many physical and mental problems that stress can cause, these effects can definitely begin to take a toll on the way that students perform academically. So much stress is said to impact the performance of students and college has a very high demand of studying and work required, if students are undergoing too much stress, they won’t be able to keep up and things can begin going down the wrong path quickly. Since so many parts of our everyday life can in some way be associated with stress, it is easy for it to take great effects on the daily activities of students. A few ways that stress can negatively affect a student’s academic performance is by affecting their management skills, concentration ability, and their memory. All of these are used throughout the learning process, a process that is used consistently throughout our educational journeys. Without being able to fully engage in their academic studies, students can begin to doubt their abilities and reach worse symptoms.
Trying to manage stress helps keep students healthy as they endure all of the stress that comes with college. By not managing stress properly, it can prevent students from successfully achieving their academic goals and can negatively impact their overall health. Stress comes from within a person and is caused by everyone’s real world experiences, learning how to manage stress can lead to exercising good habits in everyday scenarios. There’s isn’t a proper introduction when stress comes about; it’s just comes with the life struggles. A study from Harvard University Center of the Developing Child states that “because of its enduring effects on brain development and other organ systems, toxic stress can impair school readiness, academic achievement, and both physical and mental health throughout the lifespan.” This shows that there is a never-ending list of the effects caused by stress and the tolls that it can take upon the lives of students. By trying to manage stress, students can take care of their body physically, mentally, and will perform well academically.
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