Glorification of College Stress

You wake up at seven to primp before starting your day, because who knows who you will meet today. Your eight am class is calling and you run out the door.

Early back to back classes leave plenty of time for an afternoon work shift so you can put gas in your car.

After work it’s time to hit the gym. A quick check of BOLT while you’re on the bike reminds you of an essay due by 11:59pm.

Alright, time for a quick shower. Wait… did you eat? Oh well, no time. Grab a cheese stick as you run out the door on your way to the library.

And submit. Cool, got that essay done 20 minutes before the deadline.

Time for bed. Opps, almost forgot to read those textbook chapters.

A quick glance at the clock tells you you’re not going to be getting a lot of sleep tonight.

Go to bed.

Repeat.

Sound familiar?

For most college students balancing their days can be an ordeal. Expectations for today’s students are more extensive than in the past. We’re expected to get great grades, work, eat, make friends and network, as well as keep up with our health. However, with only 24 hours in a day, it can be difficult to keep up with it all.

In an effort to be ‘successful’ students are resorting to prioritizing. Grades become more important than sleep and work overtakes eating.

These are just some aspects that give insight to the mental health crisis university students are facing all across America.

“2015 National College Health Assessment, 30% of students reported that stress had negatively affected their academic performance within the past year, and over 85% had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point within the past year,” writes Megan Reed and Berry College in their USA Today article.

Stress has become such a part of the college culture that you’ll often hear students bragging about how stressed out they are. For them it makes sense; obviously the more stressed out you are the more you are accomplishing.

Conversely, if you aren’t carting around trenta sized Starbucks coffees and complaining about only getting 4 hours of sleep as a result of copious amounts of studying you are seen as lazy.

“They push themselves to the breaking point by not sleeping for three days. There’s kind of a sense of pride in doing that,” Soniya Shah told the Post-Gazette in 2013. “And for those who don’t, it’s almost embarrassing [so] you feel the need to ‘one-up’ people on how hard you’re working.” Shah was a junior at Carnegie Mellon University and was trying to help administration eliminate some of the stress culture on campus.

While stress may be a motivating factor for some to get their work done on time. It can be very damaging to others and present itself in a variety of ways.

Overly stressed students can find themselves feeling helpless, lonely and unhappy leading to a cycle of binge drinking/drug use. The number of college students finding themselves struggling with addiction has skyrocketed.

Others display their stress through mental diseases such as general anxiety disorder or clinical depression.

The extreme stress college students face also often leads to memory loss. “While short bursts of stress can help you remember events and details with clarity, chronic stress can actually impair your ability to retain information, according to researchers working with the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University. This is bad news for students who might fruitlessly struggle to remember information during high-stress cram sessions, only to find they’ve retained very little,” Bestcolleges.com article A Student’s Guide to Battling Stress writes.

While short bursts of stress can help you remember events and details with clarity, chronic stress can actually impair your ability to retain information, according to researchers working with the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University. This is bad news for students who might fruitlessly struggle to remember information during high-stress cram sessions, only to find they’ve retained very little.A loss of concentration, sleep disorders, and chronic muscle pain are other significant effects of extreme stress.

We should not be pushing our students to these perilous points. Our school culture needs to change if we want a highly functioning and happy society.

The tips people give you to relieve the stress don’t work. Meditation, extra sleep. None of it helps because half the problem is the fact that we don’t have enough time as it is without adding 20 minutes of meditation.

We need to stop praising the idea of working yourself till your nothing but sleep deprived skin and bones.

We need to start encouraging students to stop saying yes to everything. There is no need to be a part of three clubs when you already work and have five classes.

We need to remember that while students are at school for an education there is often a lot more going on in their lives and we cannot chastise them for it.

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