Studies caution students of stress

Campus Times
May 14, 1999


by Jeanette M. Neyman
Staff Writer

As finals and end-of-semester challenges approach, stress begins to overwhelm the average student. Eating and sleeping habits change in response to the overload.

Many times negative physiological and psychological reactions occur, causing students to feel like a time bomb with an extremely short fuse.

"People don't realize all that they are doing," said Cindy Denne, Student Health Center nurse, who suggests writing down all of your activities on a given day.

"You would be amazed at how much you do," she said. "Then give yourself some credit. Take time, eat a decent meal and exercise; even just a brisk walk across campus will invigorate you."

What is stress? Defined by Webster's Third New International Dictionary, stress is an adaptive response in which the body prepares or adjusts to a threatening situation.

"Many people think that stress is the actual person, place, circumstance or thing that upsets them," said Dr. Gordon S. Tessler, Ph.D.

Actually, factors such as desperately searching for a parking spot on campus, studying or working nonstop, last-minute cramming for tests, etc. are stressors-not stress.

"Even emotions such as rage, hate, anger, nervous tension or frustration are stressors -- not stress," he said.

All of the above stressors threaten one's body as a whole, forcing it to make certain chemical and physiological changes in order to resist or adapt to the stressor presented.

Stress has subtle effects on the endocrine glands (hormones), nervous system and immunological system. When the body responds to stressors, it begins to function at an increased rate, causing the body to eventually break down.

After the stress passes, the body's response mechanisms will return to normal.

The body is not designed to be on "red alert" all the time and will eventually exhaust under such strain.

Since one cannot change many stressors in life, at least until graduation (that in itself is a major stressor), it is important to develop strategies for coping with stress, rather than just reacting to it.


1. An exercise program -- "burn off" physiological and psychological stress

2. Quiet time -- Take a quiet walk. A few minutes of quiet time will recharge the frayed nerves of a tension-filled day.

3. Commune with one's creator -- meditating or praying are effective means to quiet the restless mind and heal the feelings of separation.

4. Develop a positive attitude -- When something causes anger or pain, say, "This too shall pass."

5. Give someone a hug -- Hugs are non-fattening, 100 percent organic and natural, cure depression, reduce stress and improve the immune system.

-- Gordon S. Tessler, Ph.D., contributed to this story.