Health Corner: Coping with Stress

BY KRISTINA MOORE
For the UAS Whalesong
Stress is a natural part of life and affects all college students to some degree. However, today’s college students have more external responsibilities than ever before. Today, more than half of college students hold full or part time jobs on top of rigorous academic responsibilities. Common stressors in college life:
-Being away from home, perhaps for the first time
-Changes in family and social life
-Financial responsibilities
-Exposure to new people and experiences
-Substance use
-Increasing awareness of one’s sexual identity and orientation
Stress impacts us physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. It can cause exhaustion and illness and can make us more prone to accidents. It can also lead to chronic absences, trouble keeping up with deadlines, and a drop in grades. Do you recognize signs of stress in your life?
Too much stress can leave us feeling overwhelmed, making it difficult for us to cope, and can lead to   anxiety and having difficulty functioning. National college health studies have shown that one-third of  college students have difficulty functioning due to depression, and over half experience overwhelming anxiety. And chances are, those numbers may be higher for our community, due to the extended darkness in the winter months. So if you are overwhelmed, you are not alone.
When stress leaves us feeling overwhelmed, what can we do to feel some relief?
Don’t be afraid to say no. Chances are, you know your own limits.  If you are already stretched thin do not be afraid to say no to extra responsibilities or activities that will stretch you even thinner.
Give yourself a break. Allow yourself time to take a walk and get some fresh air, visit with a friend or family member, or grab a hot drink to calm your nerves.
Get organized. Find a system that works for you, whether it be a calendar with assignment due dates, leaving notes for yourself, setting alarms in your phone, and so on. Reduce your chances of missing deadlines, which is a common source of stress for students.
Eat well. Eating well-balanced meals and avoiding refined sugars can help to keep your moods stable and improve your ability to focus.
Get enough sleep. Try to shoot for at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is when your mind stores all of the information that you learned during the day, and when your body re-charges.
Laugh! Laughter releases hormones in our body that help to calm us down. If you need a little help getting started, head to You Tube and type in “Very excited pug” … and share!
If you would like more ideas for coping or are feeling overwhelmed and need some extra support, you are very welcome to contact the UAS Counseling Center.
My name is Kristina Moore and I am a senior in the UAF Social Work program. I will be a practicing social worker for the rest of this school year, working with Margie Thomson in UAS Counseling & Disability   Services. I am happy to be here to support students with their counseling & disability needs.

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