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Academic Stress Among Students

The vast majority of people experience stress at work or university and in their personal lives. One hears the annoying story of another person and experiences pressure. He or she avoids eye contact because of the inability to cope with negative feelings. Stress becomes more and more common nowadays. According to the definition given by World Health Organization (WHO), stress is the reaction of the body such as mental, physical, emotional, and chemical to anything that scares irritates or threatens it (“Stress at the workplace”, 2017).

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Most importantly, mental health is significantly affected by stress, causing such outcomes as depression, insomnia, worsened relationships with others, anxiety, etc. The latter are the characteristic symptoms of distress, while temporary eustress makes the opposite effect, helping a person to meet the deadlines, cope with emotions, etc. There are different types of stress, including workplace, academic, personal, health, environmental, and so on. Focusing on academic stress, one may mote that student life is full of tense situations, and students often experience stress. Most students develop stress due to a large flow of information, the lack of systematic work during the semester, and dissatisfaction with life (Coccia & Darling, 2016).

Informational stress arises as a result of information overload when a person cannot cope with the task or does not have time to make decisions at a given rate. In case a student cannot handle the study load, it is possible to specify information excess.

The students encounter various potential sources of stress. For instance, one of them is associated with the beginning of a new life. For many students, the university period refers to the first time they live independently. They left the safety of the family home, and they are no longer under the care of the responsible adults. It is expected that they will take care of themselves as much as they can, solving tasks such as eating, cleaning, time controlling, etc. Even if most college students are ready for this task, it remains significant and capable of generating stress for many of them, especially for freshmen and sophomore students (Misra & McKean, 2000).

Another antecedent of academic stress is noted by Manjula (2016): “time management is reported to be a major problem“ (p. 110). The inability to properly plan various activities and organize learning-leisure balance leads to a lack of free time. The human body and mind need time to rest, and some passive rest is often the best way to prevent stress. However, student life often does not allow this, especially for those students who try to stay in rhythm. In particular, rest does not bring relaxation, and a student experiences continuous anxiety and tiredness.

Eating and sleeping patterns compose one more area that may cause stress. Fast food, the lack of healthy nutrition, preference of nightclubs instead of sleeping, and other related factors lead to the increased risk of academic stress in students. At the same time, eating and sleeping act as the key patterns to prevent stress. For example, as revealed in the recent study by Dusselier, Dunn, Wang, Shelley II, & Whalen (2005), the main way to overcome stress is sleeping that allows the human body to recover. Among the consequences of stress, there are fatigue, headache, constipation, diarrhea, the disordered model of sleep, nervousness, lack of appetite, etc. Many of the mentioned signs may not always be obvious to others until they become rather dangerous. The early signs of academic stress are usually associated with student behavior.

According to the study conducted by Khan, Altaf, and Kausar (2013), there are some of the behavioral changes that may indicate that a student is suffering from stress and may need help: frequent absence from classes, decrease in grades, consumption of alcohol and drugs, increased aggression or emotionality, and constant desire to seclude. If a student has several of the above symptoms, it is likely that he or she faces some extent of stress. Leaving this load unattended for a long period of time, a student falls at risk of developing depression (Khan et al., 2013). The latter can also occur if a traumatic event will happen at a time when a student is already suffering from stress.

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This is a rather serious problem that can immediately require professional help. Some of the most common mental symptoms associated with depression include irrational thinking, excessive weight gain or weight loss, too long or too short sleeping, a marked feeling of hopelessness, or even suicidal thoughts. It is essential to note that students do not react to stress in the same way as academic stress is what they feel as a result of internal and external factors, social interaction, and study load. Every student will react to stress antecedents in his or her own way and develop specific consequences, even if the requirements for them are identical.

To manage academic stress among students, one should understand that it is easier to prevent it rather than to address the consequences. Maroney (2010) emphasizes that teachers and students should be careful not to miss situations where a certain level of stress is expected. For example, during exams, everyone experiences some stress, which makes it much more likely to skip warning signs of a particular student. In such a situation, it is easy to overlook the symptoms of stress in individuals. In this regard, teachers should be attentive and be ready to offer their help and advice, if required. At the same time, students should also make efforts to reduce stressful situations.

Häfner, Stock, and Oberst (2015) propose the importance of time management training, claiming that task lists, prioritization, and long-term plans are likely to help a student to manage his or her time effectively. For most students, communication with friends or a beloved one is used to reduce stress, discuss problems, and relax. Social interaction may be also beneficial in the form of support from relatives and other closest people. Another way to relieve stress is physical activity, which is positive for a student in a stressful situation. A healthy diet should be accompanied by regular physical exercises to increase energy, improve concentration, relaxation, and sleeping.

More to the point, regular exercising also positively affects susceptibility to stress, as it enhances one’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Thus, the problem of stress is complex and multifaceted. To prevent academic stress effectively, it is necessary to engage students, teachers, social educators, and psychologists. The professional motivation of students, as well as the introduction of the basics of a healthy lifestyle and training courses into the learning process, are the key strategies to reduce and cope with stressful situations.

References

Coccia, C., & Darling, C. A. (2016). Having the time of their life: College student stress, dating and satisfaction with life. Stress and Health, 32(1), 28-35. Web.

Dusselier, L., Dunn, B., Wang, Y., Shelley II, M. C., & Whalen, D. F. (2005). Personal, health, academic, and environmental predictors of stress for residence hall students. Journal of American College Health, 54(1), 15-24. Web.

Häfner, A., Stock, A., & Oberst, V. (2015). Decreasing students’ stress through time management training: An intervention study. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 30(1), 81-94. Web.

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Khan, M. J., Altaf, S., & Kausar, H. (2013). Effect of perceived academic stress on students’ performance. FWU Journal of Social Sciences, 7(2), 146-151. Web.

Manjula, M. (2016). Academic stress management: An intervention in pre-university college youth. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 42(1), 105-113. Web.

Maroney, B. R. (2010). Exploring non-traditional adult undergraduate student persistence and non-persistence in higher education: A stress and coping model approach. Web.

Misra, R., & McKean, M. (2000). College students’ academic stress and its relation to their anxiety, time management, and leisure satisfaction. American Journal of Health Studies, 16(1), 41-51. Web.

Stress at the workplace. (2017).

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