The stress factor: Making it all work
Junior Jenni Nadler is a leader in Relay For Life, active in Alpha Gamma Delta, works in Student & Campus Life, and is a Chapman ambassador. She’s also a straight A student. To her peers, Nadler has it all together.
Just don’t expect Nadler to see things that way.
“The first thing I say to myself is, ‘My life is a mess,’” said Nadler, 21, a communications major. “When I’m under stress I feel like everything is disorganized and unstable.”
Stress? Is it just an all-encompassing word for pain, perspiration, headache, sadness, and a thousand other feelings? It’s certainly real at Chapman: In the last couple of years, anxiety has replaced depression as the number one reason students seek help from Student Psychological Counseling Services, according to its director, Jeannie Walker.
One reason for the increase in depression cases might be related to the downturn in the economy, Walker said:
“Students have family members losing jobs. Also, they have their own anxiety about prospective jobs when they graduate.”
A few common stress symptoms can be sickness, oversleeping, decreased motivation, feeling of being “lost” or a feeling of disorganization, as in Nadler’s case.
An informal poll taken by Chapman students revealed three prominent sources of anxiety:
— Academic overload was number one: Pressures such as a full load of 18 or more credits and frustration over fulfilling general requirements needed for graduation.
— Interpersonal distress was next. Pressure on making relationships work — finding that balance between school work and personal commitment.
— Work worries. Dealing with job demands on top of students’ many other involvements.
Nadler admits part of her problem is her struggle with perfectionism.
“I have been a straight A student since junior high and it’s important to me to come prepared to class, so it can be really stressful when I’m on campus from 8 a.m. to midnight and have class the next day at 8 a.m.,” she said.
Having trouble finding stray hours is not uncommon. Too many simply choose to procrastinate instead of getting the work done. So a two-hour task winds up taking four hours.
“I spent more time telling others how stressed I am, which in turn allows me to procrastinate more. Then I proceed to facebook,” said Emily Oster, a sophomore communication studies major.
But some students have found their own ways to deal with stress. Aaron Gerston, a sophomore computer science major, said he’s learned from psychology classes that escaping is the last thing you should be doing.
“I just do what I need to because not doing it makes it worse,” Gerston said.
Jennifer Manlimos, a sophomore psychology and French major, delays dealing with her anxiety by using methods that clear her head, such as taking naps or writing journal entries. It’s something she’s done since childhood.
“Resting improves your cognitive functioning,” she said. “Leaves you more ready to face the day.”
John Doty, a sophomore film production major, finds that stepping away from anxiety to learn a song on an instrument helps him cope with the side effects of stress. It gives him a sense of satisfaction and motivation he needs to deal with stress.
Doty’s case is also unique because a large portion of his stress is spiritual. He knows that something that could be so valued prior to coming into school can often be displaced by something else.
“Right now that is what is defining me but at the same time, learning about God and spirituality is all on your own time. It’s optional,” he said.
If there is any good news about stress, it might be this: You didn’t learn it at Chapman.
Walker believes students start stressing out even before they arrive on campus:
“Students come in to college more anxious than ever before. It’s because of pressures they have endured just to get into college. It sometimes seems that the more academically prepared they are, the more anxious they are as well.”