With midterms just around the corner for many of us, stress is likely starting to build up. While we all know some level of stress is natural, and in some situations even helpful, I know I personally have ignored just how dangerous of a pressure stress can be.
One of the reasons stress is so problematic is how prevalent it is. Obviously, this holds true at a college campus with a near constant workload, but excessive stress is much more widespread. This summer, the American Psychological Association with the American Institute of Stress published its study showing that roughly 77 percent of people in the U.S. experience physical symptoms caused by stress regularly. Whether it be nausea, migraines or shaking hands, these physical symptoms of stress have become almost normal to a supermajority of Americans.
With stress and symptoms of stress so commonplace, they become ever easier to ignore. At Knox, every person you meet seems to be even busier than the last person. This is one of the many beautiful things on campus in that it results in so many spectacular showings of talent on a regular basis. Yet for me, it is also the reason I let myself reach the “over stressed” level. To look around and see so many brilliant friends and peers achieving so much can lead to a sort of invalidation of personal stress, so it is important to remember that your mental and physical health is not determined by how stressed anyone else is.
As the tests get closer, and closer we can expect a fair amount of scholastic stress to be present. While this is certainly worrisome for many, there is a definite silver lining to having a known stress attached to a calendar. As with most things, being prepared is half the battle. Little things like planning an hour down in the Rodger Taylor Lounge to decompress during midterms week or planning for a 15-minute walk through campus in between activities will help keep a calm head during a stressful period. Likewise, planning a group study session for a test is a great way to mix the scholarly with the social in an attempt to keep things under control.
There are many more tips for dealing with stress, but with it being so frequently Googled, these are easy to find. Instead, the best piece of advice I can offer is to be always rigorously self-assessing your stress level. Because stress can vary so much on a weekly, even daily basis, it is crucial to be aware of it. While some de-stressing tips are great for little increases in stress or scheduled situations, the most important thing is to realize when stress is taking an emotional and physical toll.
Knox offers short-term counseling at the Health and Counseling Center that is open to all students and can help with these more major issues. Even better, appointments can be made by calling 309-341-7492, emailing Dan Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the Health and Counseling Center between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The school offers so many ways to set up an appointment, because they truly do care about you and want you to be able to access the services as easily as possible. If you think you might benefit from the counselors or any of the other services provided by the office through Knox, take full advantage of your tuition dollars and give it a go.
As inevitable as stress is in the modern world, it is important that we not ignore our own mental stability. Take some time out for yourself these next few weeks and remember that the Knox community is here for you.