Don’t let stress get you down

Story by Emily Albrent, Chief Copy Editor

It’s that time of year again. School has descended upon the masses, and for most students that means an increase in studying, homework, tests and stress.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of college students say that they experience stress on a daily basis.

“I think that students are pulled in multiple directions both to maintain their education, to maintain their finances to get involved in campus, to do job searches … and all of the hats that students wear can really be challenging to balance all of that. I think that is when students get overwhelmed,” said Kristin Hoff, a UW-Eau Claire post-doctoral therapist.

According to the UW-Eau Claire website on stress management, some causes of stress are financial problems, issues in a close relationship, irrational thinking and changes of any kind in a person’s life.

Some symptoms of stress, according to the same website, are lack of energy, cold hands, weight gain or loss and muscle tension.

In order to help keep stress in check, students need to invest in themselves, and build themselves up from the inside out, Hoff said.

She acknowledged that for students, sometimes keeping a balance in life can be challenging.

“(You’re) going to school and working and then you also want to get involved in fun activities, which we encourage, and your plate can get full very quickly … (students) have a lot of demands and that can be a challenge to balance. Balance is one of those skills that takes a long time to get good at,” Hoff said.

Regina Troia, a junior and RA at Bridgman Hall deals with stress by spending time with friends, and making sure to take little breaks to recuperate. This knowledge has also helped her in being able to assist her residents when they have
stress-related issues.

“Mainly just talk about it and don’t hide under the stress, you really need to address it. And time management is the biggest thing that I use to get rid of my stress and that’s something that I encourage my residents (to do),” Troia said.

Erin Hanson, a sophomore, said that the most stressful time for her is in the middle of the semester when everything is in full swing.

“I feel the most stress about halfway through the semester, where you are starting to get worried about lots of tests and you have a lot of homework to do and your extracurriculars are in full swing so it’s just a lot to deal with sometimes,”
Hanson said.

To help combat these hard times during the school year, or anytime in general, try doing relaxation techniques, such as taking slow, deep breaths, can lower stress,
suggests Hoff.

“Just noticing your breath, just noticing where you are … noticing your senses. The more you are in tune with your senses, the more present focused you are, and you’re less likely to be in that state of past rumination or future worrying if you’re in the present moment,” Hoff said.

Another technique that Hoff said is helpful for relaxation is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation, which is where you tense and release muscles repeatedly.

“When you are stressed, you do carry tension somewhere, some individuals may grind their teeth, or hurt their jaw in some way without even realizing that they are doing it. And the more you become aware of your tension, the more you can attend to it,” Hoff said.

It is also important to keep yourself healthy mentally and physically. This means making sure you keep up with exercising, eating healthy, and making some time for friends, Hoff said.

“When our external stressors get bigger, or they become more profound perhaps in our lives, the automatic things we do is we sleep less, we eat worse, we don’t maintain social interactions, we cut out our friends, because we are trying to get stuff done,” Hoff said.

According to Hoff, a lot of times these simple, yet vital things are the first to go when students are feeling the pressure.

“All of those things, although they seem like they are productive, they actually do the opposite effect.

The main thing that I always remind students is you need to, in a time of stress, really build and enhance your internal
resources,“ Hoff said.

If these techniques are not working for you, Hoff strongly suggests making a visit to the UW-Eau Claire counseling services, located in Old Library 2122, which are available to all students free of charge.