by Natalia Radcliffe
When you think of the life of a student, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of spending hours studying or living in the library day after day. Maybe the picture of a social butterfly comes to mind, one who attends all the events and dances.
Another view some might hold is not so pleasant: stress.
Most students at some point during their academic years will experience stress in some form, especially during finals. In small amounts, stress can provide motivation to accomplish a task. However, it can be a slippery slope between stress that is helpful and stress that is hurtful.
“Helpful stress is stress that happens naturally on its own,” said Frederick Bobola, the coordinator of humanities, social sciences, and languages at The Learning Center at College of the Canyons. It involves day-to-day things that are brought up and have to be dealt with.
Hurtful stress, or bad stress, “is created by our own internal thoughts,” said Bobola. This is the stress people create by overthinking things and focusing too much on what will come as opposed to what is happening in the present.
“It can easily walk all over us unless we take action,” said Margarita Tartakovsky, an associate editor and regular contributor at Psych Central.
And that is never good.
Tartakovsky has some tips for managing stress.
For instance, instead of focusing on what cannot be controlled, focus on what you do have power over. “The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless,” said Tartakovsky.
She also recommends finding time in the day to do the things you enjoy doing. “It’s so much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love,” explained Tartakovsky.
Charlie Chica, a College of the Canyons student, advises getting up early in the morning to have some time to pursue enjoyable activities before the day starts.
Being ok with making mistakes is another piece of advice Tartakovsky offers. “Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking,” she said. “Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.”
Bobola also has tips for combating stress through his experience of working at The Learning Center.
For starters, he recommends putting some space between the stress inducer and yourself, such as going outside and getting some fresh air.
Being mindful is another useful tool. “The concept of mindfulness is very valuable in fighting stress,” said Bobola. It is “the practice of being aware of one’s thoughts.” He explained that students can become overwhelmed with schoolwork and forget the reasons why they chose the path in the first place. The excitement over the opportunity to learn is lost in the ever growing amount of work that needs to be accomplished. In these times, finding a quiet place to sit and reflect can be useful. “You take a few deep breaths … and you remember why you are doing what you are doing.”