Stress takes a toll on students
November 8, 2007 12:04 PM
Stress is no stranger to many students on SF State's urban campus.
As many students at SF State juggle school, work and commuting as well as the impending doom of midterms fast approaching this month, stress can build up and cause poor health and poor decisions. According to the stress management workshop conducted on campus by SF State’s campus health educator Albert Angelo, MS Ed., stress comes when we perceive we are in danger, feel worried and afraid or feel trapped, as if we have no choices.
“Only 25 percent of the US population has a college degree,” Angelo said. “Think about what were saying about each other when we think ‘I’m not a biochemistry triple major with physics on the side'- I must be doing something wrong.”
Angelo recommends breathing exercises where one takes four breaths in, releases two, then two more released breaths, and to close your eyes and imagine someone in your mind who has guided you and loved you. He noted that the more someone worries about something, the more likely they are fine, for they are obsessing over something they have most likely taken care of.
“Life comes with a 100 percent degree of mortality,” Angelo said. “I’ll be happy when, I’ll be happy when- I get a nice comfortable coffin, because I will worry until there’s no more life.”
A large stressor can be not honoring one’s biology, according to Angelo. Think about how your parents handled stress. If you flourish around a competitive environment, or if you prefer serenity and open space, even things like recognizing that you need a lot of coffee to stay awake and alert, Angelo says.
One theory the workshop teaches is the “What If Syndrome.” A student could be sitting in traffic, and then they start to panic that they will be late to class, miss the lecture, fail the next exam, fail the course, fail the semester, never get a good job and then live a life of misery.
He gives the humorous example of not getting a text back from a significant other, and how that leads to thoughts about him or her flirting with someone else, then cheating or having sex with someone else.
“Honor what you don’t know,” Angelo said. “Let the future be the future, if the little bully tells us its not going to work, tell the bully to get the hell out.”
One student, Anita Hegedus, an 18-year-old psychology major, inquired about conflicts at home with parents, and felt changed by Angelo's advice. She wants to move out, but they won't finance it.
"The commute from Castro Valley is more or less three hours out of my day to travel, and adds more stress to life in general" Hegedus said.
Angelo noted that if someone doesn't agree with your decision, thats their problem, not yours, and that one has to decide whats worth it, such as working full time to make rent.
Angelo's recommendations for big exams and large papers include breaking things down into manageable tasks such as, taking a whole week in the beginning of the semester just to pick a topic, or setting aside a week to go in the library.
He wants his students in the workshop to accept the things they cannot change, and have the courage to change the things they can as well as the wisdom to know the difference.
"We count our money more than we count what's going right," Angelo said. "We worry more about our money than our body."
It was noted that one can't study perfectly, and that a student should do the easy questions first, to not get stuck on one for 40 minutes, because your perceptions change, Angelo says.
For more information about the stress management workshop or the drop in meditation hour, go to http://www.sfsu.edu/~shs.
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