As the fall semester begins, students’ workloads increase, and by default, so do their stress levels. This phenomenon, however, shouldn’t be ignored, as prolonged stress has detrimental effects on not only a student’s mental and emotional health, but it can impact the student’s physical health.
College students who experience elevated levels of stress tend to experience an increased risk of academic difficulties, substance abuse and emotional obstacles according to a study by Emil Chiauzzi. There are several things that can be done to help lower stress levels: reading, listening to music, taking a walk, yoga, visiting the Mind Spa (located in room 149 in Memorial Union), hanging out with friends, meditation and so much more. Managing stress can be difficult, which is why there are several places across campus that are available to help you manage your stress. One of the easiest ways to manage stress is to determine where it’s originating and prevent the onset if possible.
The effects that stress has on college students is conspicuous. An American College Health Association survey showed that more than 33% of the over 16,000 students surveyed reported that stress interfered with their academic performance. This was substantiated by missing classes, lower grades or dropping courses completely, according to Chiauzzi.
Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to things such as difficulties sleeping, psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and other high-risk behaviors. Undergraduate students, especially first year students, are at the highest risk of having unmanaged stress. Numerous studies have proven a link between stress and unhealthy habits in undergraduate students. In one particular study, surveyed undergraduates that stated they experienced higher levels of stress were less likely to get exercise often, less likely to consume healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and were more likely to consume unhealthy foods.
Identifying where your stress originates from and finding ways to prevent it is one of the best stress management techniques available — but this is not always easy or even possible. Sometimes stress is entirely unavoidable, which is why there are so many stress management techniques available. Places such as the Counseling Center and the Mind Spa were implemented with the best interests of students in mind, and are great resources for stress management. They are completely free to University of Maine students. Stress can take a toll on every aspect of our lives, so make sure to manage yours.