Students’ stress levels on the rise

Karon Parrish

   Looming deadlines, a relationship crisis, a dead battery and the fuse gets shorter and shorter. We think of stress as something which is coming from out there, and the best response we can make is to grit our teeth and carry on. 

   The word “stress,” though actually refers to our response -- in mind, body and spirit -- which buffers us-and there’s a lot we can do about that! Exhaustion, depression, agitation, disturbed sleep, the clutch in the throat, the stomach ache or headache -- this level is often the one which comes to our attention first. 

Symptoms of stress

  1. Tense muscles, sore neck, shoulders and back.
  2. Insomnia
  3. Fatigue
  4. Boredom, depression, listlessness
  5. Drinking too much
  6. Eating too much or too little
  7. Diarrhea, cramps, gas, constipation
  8. Palpitations – heart skip
  9. Phobias – unfound fears
  10. Tics, itching
  11. Worry
  12. Any symptom that is unusual for YOU can indicate stress.

*It is important to note that not everyone suffering from depression will show outward symptoms.

   These are signs of a process that has already begun happening. The body has reacted to an alarm by becoming aroused, releasing hormones in an effort to cope with the threat. But the threat continues and so do the accompanying emotions of fear, anger and frustration. The body finally becomes exhausted by its constant state of arousal, and the immune systems begin to be less effective. The ability to function drops (the paper due tomorrow won’t come together), and on top of it we are developing a wretched cold.

   Finals week is arguably one of the most stressful times of the semester. 

   “The number of students who need support during this time of year is always higher,” UAM Counseling and Testing Director Laura Hughes said. She said there are many ways in which a student can reduce this stress.

    Recognizing stress and becoming aware of its effects is one way students can be prepared for finals week. If a student has procrastinated studying and is in a bind, they should look at everything they need to get done and make a list and note when things need to be completed. Prevention magazine suggests taking breaks that relieve stress will help keep students awake and focused. Watching a comedy sitcom will cause us to laugh due to the release of stress hormones that basically causes us to laugh the stress away. Another technique is to exercise. A 30-minute brisk walk or job can refresh your body and relieve tense muscles.

   “The campus has offered numerous workshops, free counseling services, and helpful tips for all the students as well as the faculty and staff and we hope that more people will take part in these services now more than ever,” Hughes said.

   Tara Arnold, a sophomore Spanish major, is overwhelmed with the amount of work she has to complete this week then prepare for finals next week. 

   “I’ve been unable to sleep and feel overwhelmed with all the stuff the professors have us do,” she said. “I’ve noticed how tense my neck and shoulders are this week and I’m not usually like this.”

   Arnold isn’t the only student feeling overwhelmed. 

   “I am extremely frustrated and I’ve noticed I am short-tempered with my family these days,” senior English major Heidi Long said. I have so much to do in a short amount of time plus I have an 11-month-old baby that needs my full attention too.”

      Hughes and her staff said they are working to help students with any difficulties they may be having at this time and are urged to contact the office for more information (870) 460-1453.  The office has worked around the clock since Dec. 7 and will continue to offer free services for the entire campus community.

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