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College and stress are generally synonymous.
If you think about it, college is basically a test of time management skills. How well can you juggle class, work, internships, activities and a social life? For some, this becomes a problem. Enter stress and anxiety and a whole lot of other unhealthy issues.
At any time within the last 12 months, 54.2 percent of women in college felt overwhelming anxiety, according to data from the spring 2010 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment. Also, 12.7 percent of women were diagnosed with anxiety.
With finals coming up for many college students, it’s important to remember the basics, said Greg Eells, the director of counseling and psychological services at Cornell University.
“Sometimes people stop doing the important things they need to do to help deal with stress,” Eells said.
Students should get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and take breaks, he said.
“The things that college students do go against all the research about what you need to do,” Eells said.
For example, downing alcohol or caffeine probably isn’t going to help, so college students need to consider the consequences of their actions. Sometimes a social life has to be slightly compromised in order to do well in school.
Although some stress and anxiety can be normal and typical, especially around finals, some students might have unmanageable levels.
“Anxiety at a certain level enhances performance, and then when it continues to increase, performance decreases,” Eells said.
For students with a diagnosable form of anxiety, therapy can help, like “looking at thoughts and how those thoughts relate to feelings of anxiety,” he said.
Eells said there is a therapy called exposure response prevention.
“You learn to tolerate feelings of anxiety and stop trying to control the feelings of anxiety,” he said.
Although college students aren’t necessarily more stressed than the rest of the population, he said some situations at college can be expected to cause stress and anxiety.
“People are investing a lot when they come to college,” Eells said.