Stress’ impact on student mentality

As midterms come around, students should keep their mental health in check.

by Courtney Johnson

It’s that time of year again. The semester’s first round of exams forces students into late night study sessions, shoving activities with friends to the side and creating more stress than students prepare for. Eventually, students stretch themselves so thin that the effectiveness of their work begins to suffer, and their own confidence in themselves starts to lack. This is anxiety’s way of silently creeping into the otherwise happy and healthy student mentality. Most students are able to manage their time and balance their workload with other responsibilities. Yet, there are some students whose lives spiral downward, and they lose the optimistic perspective to assist in effectively managing their time.

College students have a high risk of developing a number of different anxiety disorders — a direct result from excess responsibilities in their life. Disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder can lead to depression, eating disorders and a change in one’s overall health. Yet, college students tend to worry most about their future career, school and friends, classified as generalized anxiety disorder or everyday anxiety. Different people react to this differently: Some cry, some get angry, some lose sleep and others lose their sense of reality completely and become a frazzled robot mechanically going through the motions of everyday life, focusing solely on school and work. While thinking about school and life after college is important, it does not have to be a rat race. With the right perspective and methods for coping with stress, students can learn how to manage their anxiety without feeling overly burdened from school.

Popular methods that most students use to aid their anxiety levels are working out and practicing yoga. Working out is a great way to release endorphins in the brain that better one’s perspective about themselves and their outlook in the world. Yoga is a great weapon against stress because it uses breathing and meditation help to relax the mind and muscles.

For students who may have tried these approaches, yet need more encouragement, Boynton Health Service has a mental health clinic that offers a variety of counseling options for students. One of these options that students might find most helpful is the Boynton Mindfulness Group, which “helps people explore methods for handling stress through mindful awareness.” According to the Mayo Clinic, mindfulness is defined as focused, deliberate attention to a task or thought to quiet the mind and eliminate distractions. Group sessions for the Mindfulness Group at Boynton include meditation strategies and lessons on the difference between responding to stress and reacting to stress.

Boynton also offers a specific group for students suffering from severe anxiety, giving them the opportunity to meet and speak with counselors in person and emergency sessions over the phone. The key to managing stress and anxiety is acknowledging it, speaking up and asking for help. These are all helpful strategies for the myriad of stressed out students silently panicking around every corner of campus this time of year.

The University of Minnesota offers a number of services to aid students in managing stress and anxiety when they encounter it. Working out and practicing yoga at home can be just as beneficial; it simply depends on the student’s case. The different pressures placed upon the shoulders of students are very prevalent this time of the semester. Doing well in school is the ultimate goal, but building a case for life post-graduation is important, too. Controlling perspective and learning how to cope with these pressures is the key to minimizing student anxiety.