As the school year begins, it is important to remind students that stressing out about classes and the future can actually cause more harm than good. Worrying keeps students in a constant state of fear and anxiety and hinders any real progress toward the future. In order to be more successful in school, students need to learn to calm down, relax and enjoy their time in college.
With unemployment rates hovering around eight percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fear and anxiety are understandable emotions. College graduates face the possibility of being jobless and in debt to student loans at graduation. When the thought of a future that doesn’t seem as bright or as hopeful as it did upon entering school takes hold, work suffers as a result. The Center for Disease Control defines work anxiety as “the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the worker.” This definition can be applied perfectly to the stress that college students feel.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 80 percent of college students claim to experience daily stress and nine percent have considered suicide in the last year. There is a large difference between “everyday” anxiety and anxiety disorders, but the symptoms manifest themselves in similar ways. The physical symptoms include difficulty swallowing, irritability, headaches, nervous energy, difficulty focusing on tasks and a fast heartbeat. Look around campus during the week of finals, nicknamed “hell week,” and many students will display these symptoms.
With these symptoms it is important to find coping mechanisms. The ADAA states that, when stress and anxiety fuel behavior, work quality can drop and stress can actually increase. “Students need to find ways to relax so they don’t stress too much,” said Tom Matt, 21, of Chicago. “For me I like to spend as much time outside as possible, because I associate being indoors with work. That way during my free time I don’t have to think about books or studying.”
For others the solution to their stress can be much simpler. “I just take a deep breath when I get anxious or stressed and tell myself it is all going to be worth it,” said Tory Nogle, 21, of Forest Park, Ill.
Many college students forget that focusing on the present is just as important as focusing on the future. Stressing and focusing too much on the future can prevent students from making friends and connections, trying new things and actually learning about themselves. Many students enter college with a life plan about where they need to be four years down the line, but they forget one important thing: College is a time to grow and try new things. When students focus on what is happening next, they forget to live in the moment and lose four years of their life that can be a wonderful experience.