According to Brougham (2009), “College women reported higher overall level of stress and greater use of emotion-focused coping strategies than college men” (Brougham, 2009, pg 85). Recent avoidance of my problems is not helping to solve them. As a college student, my two main stressors are family problems and night-eating. Considering that the old coping methods are not working, a new method needs to be taken into effect. College is a new setting for most students, especially the ones no longer living at home. The transition can be easy and worry-free, or a challenging and stressful time. Brougham states, “Growth and change were often accompanied by the experience of stress. The cause of stress varies from person to person. Overall there can be similarities such as ’academics, social relationships, finances, daily hassles and family relationships’ (Brougham, 2009, pg 86). As student, academics is the reason why we are in school; we are aiming to get educated and to learn.
Family relationships vary from student to student depending on how close the family is. My immediate family and extended family have such a close bond that when I am needed at home, I drop everything for them. Social relationships are smaller support systems individuals can count on. Finances all come down to economic status and a person’s unique financial aid package. Daily hassles range from what I should wear today to not having enough time in a day. The one that affects me the most since I have been growing up is family relationships. I was always taught to put family first and being in college has challenged me to the extreme because not being able to be there for my family when they need me most hurts. It was not until last year that I realized that my dad actually meant something to me.
Since I was born until 2010 my dad was an alcoholic, therefore, my memorizes of him are usually negative. Recently since we have found out he has liver failure and he is constantly in and out of the hospital I do not know what else to do but love him. He is currently in the hospital right now and me being school pretending everything is okay just does not feel right. Even thought I had such strong dislike for him everything has changed for that reason and that is why I am his potential liver donor but it is hard to see him slowly struggle to live. For stress, the “five coping responses are self help, accommodation, approach, avoidance and self punishment” (Brougham, 2009, pg 87). Each type is associated with a positive or negative outcome: The goals of the coping responses are to: (1) self-help by sustaining emotional well being, (2) approach stress using problem solving strategies, (3) accommodate stress through acceptance and reframing negative outcomes, (4) avoid stress through denial and blaming others, and (5) self-punish through self-focused rumination and self blame (Brougham, 2009, pg 87).
Some of these coping strategies are so hard to break away from if that is how one learned to deal with stress. Stress is not a positive word, but something that brings fear to people. I am constantly stressed, consequently, can never think straight and losing my focus at school. My dad has given me all the opportunities I have never had and even though he was not there for me when I was younger I would do anything for him. Even though I do not know how to cope with family problems I am willing to learn considering that the way I deal with my stress is a negative way usually. Now realizing there are other ways to worry, I would consider trying accommodation. The reasoning behind that coping strategy is that one needs to constantly remind themselves to not think negatively. Hurting yourself is just so much easier than thinking positively.
Brougham claims that “avoidance and self-punishment coping strategies were associated with greater negative outcomes” (Brougham, 2009, pg 87-88). The reason for this is because we do not know any other way to cope. My way of thinking is hard to change, but there has to be change in order to get somewhere in life instead of continuing bad habits. The second stressor correlates to stress: night-eating. “The transition into college life has been associated with weight gain” (Wichianson, 2009, pg 236). The infamous “freshman fifteen” refers to the fifteen pounds freshmen in college tend to gains. One main reason for this is because college students tend to eat at night. From my experienced I gained my fifteen pounds yet it was so hard to stop eating. When I was invited to eat at midnight I was always willing to go never realizing how bad that was for me.
“Poor coping and high levels of stress resulting from such a transition make students prone to engage in problematic eating behaviors such as nigh-eating syndrome, which can lead to weight gain” (Wichianson, 2009, pg 236). In college, one is independent – there is no need to ask for permission. Eating usually being scheduled at hope versus college you have the liberty to set your own schedule made it hard. I could never turn down a whooper from burger King, an ice cream sundae from McDonalds, chicken wings from hooters, and breakfast food from Denny’s. I wondered why I could not tell myself no but it was just so hard because I love food. In college one can eat when they chose and their choice of food is up to them. To some extent, as a teenager, I never learned about nutrition and how many calories one individual is supposed to have.
I also never learned to avoid certain food groups. It makes it especially hard to even decide what is healthy to eat in the cafeteria considering nothing is even healthy for you in a school cafeteria. What I found myself doing was eating everything in front of me even when I was full. The way my mom raised us she told us to eat everything and not leave anything on the plate out of respect but food cost money. Currently in our culture the portion sizes of food are huge. At a restaurant a dinner plate is so large yet, you feel guilty not eating it all. Even at fast food restaurants they give you the option of small, medium, large, x-large and sometimes even bigger, eating all this food in general is not good but eating it at night is a heart attack waiting to happen. At night, one eats and goes to bed; the food that was just eaten never gets digested or really has time to go anywhere in your body. The night eating stressor “grouped coping into two different categories: problem focused and emotion focused” (Wichianson, 2009, pg 236).
These where the two reasons the article came up with for why we eat at night and cannot stop. I never thought eating at night was problem but as my weight increased and I slept with stomach aches, I knew it was something I no longer wanted to do. In the article it states “problem-focused coping strategies have been considered adaptive, while emotion-focused coping strategies have been considered maladaptive” (Wichianson, 2009, pg 236) Emotion-focused is eating your feelings as a negative result associated with maladaptive. To some extent any feeling I had I wanted to eat. If I was happy I would eat, if I was sad I really wanted to go eat out. Problem focused is forcing you not to eat at night associated with adaptive. Adaptive in the way that you adapt to a certain eating schedule that way at night I am not hungry and will not feel the need to go out and eat.
Research was done and results showed that an “increase use of maladaptive and decrease use of adaptive coping have been associated with problem eating” (Wichianson, 2009, pg 236). Meaning that I am not alone and many people eat because of the way they feel. The better way to understand this is by scheduling time aside to go and eat. That is what I have done since the beginning of the school. I give myself one hour three times a day to eat a meal not just a snack the reason for it is because I am at risk. As an overweight student it is difficult to figure out the healthiest way to live life. The reason I eat at night is because I am stressed, yet that is making me more at risk for diabetes because it runs in the family. The best thing for me is to actually set time aside and keep reminding myself that I cannot eat past a certain time usually around seven o’clock.
There are many more stressors in my life but currently these are the two I struggle most during college. Being a college student in the nursing program makes me more nervous and afraid of not having time with my family as well as my emotional need to eat all the time. Consider that we are so active all the time it feels that there are never enough hours in a day it makes it that much harder. A quote I was fond of was, “…stress is balancing multiple demands and roles at work, at school, and in their personal life” (Giancola, 2009, pg 246). These basically generalize everything I cannot do. I cannot balance things when I have something higher on my list of prioritizing. Hopefully using these new coping mechanisms I can better myself as a person, student and even daughter.
Courtney from Study Moose
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