The impact of stress on students who attend college or universtiy has a tangible negative effect on both physical health, and mental health. Many healthy habits from living at home (such as eating well) become obsolete, and students face a lot more deadlines as well as new responsibilities when they move away from home to go to school. Addition of stressors to a persons life not only has an effect on physical health, but it can change the way we behave and feel. Stress affects people on a physical and mental level, and it is important that we acknowledge the overwhelming nature of stress so we can properly take care of ourselves. Stress is able to have an effect on physical health because stress keeps your body in a perpetual state of fight-or-flight by producing cortisol, which is a hormone produced by the body to respond to stress.
Cortisol is useful in fight-or-flight situations because: it heightens memory functions, lowers sensitivity to pain, and allows for a quick burst of energy. Elizabeth Scott, in her article Cortisol and Stress: How to Stay Healthy, states that “While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important that the body’s relaxation response be activated so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event (Scott, 2011).” The problem with constant elevated levels of cortisol is that it “can weaken the activity of the immune system by preventing proliferation of T-cells (Kennedy, 2012).” Mental health is also effected by stress in students. The demand for work output increases heavily when multiple classes begin scheduling projects and tests at the same time which often makes everyone on campus feel overwhelmed. Ultimately, stress causes unnecessary frustration and tension in the body which makes it more difficult to learn.
According to an article on dealing with stress, some of the effects of stress on thoughts, feelings and behavior are: anger, anxiety, burnout, depression, feeling of insecurity, forgetfulness, irritability, problem concentrating, restlessness, sadness, fatigue, eating too much, not eating enough, sudden angry outbursts, drug abuse, and relationship problems (Nordqvist, 2009). Female rats were repeatedly stressed in an experiment, and their litters grew up to have altered long-term memory and cognitive alterations (Lordi, B., V. Patin, P. Protais, D. Mellier, and J. Caston. N.p., Aug. 2000.). Stress in the classroom has a real potential to hamper learning capabilities. Feeling overwhelmed or flustered puts students in a state of mind where they will have difficulties paying attention and retaining information in the classroom because they are distracted by one of the vast, trivial stressors in their life. A good example of the mental distraction students deal with would be going to bed and thinking you left the oven on.
It would be extremely difficult to get to sleep until you got up to check the oven. It is important for students to recognize how stress can play a role in our lives because if we manage stress it is much healthier for our bodies (and grades) in the long run. Maintaining regular habits and doing assignments sooner than later, and learning to relax in stressful situations will keep your body from entering into a state of constant tension.
Stress is a function that is beneficial in certain situations, but stress in modern times is mostly caused by school or work because the human body is still the same as it was when people were hunter/gatherers; it is not made for the traditional five-day work week. Stress has a negative impact on student health, but more importantly it has a negative effect on student grades.
Kennedy, Ron. “Cortisol (Hydrocortisone)”. The Doctors’ Medical Library. Retrieved 2012-11-19. . Lordi, B., V. Patin, P. Protais, D. Mellier, and J. Caston. N.p., Aug. 2000. Web. Nordqvist, Christian. “What Is Stress? How To Deal With Stress.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 11 Apr. 2009. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. . Scott, Elizabeth. “Cortisol and Stress: How to Stay Healthy.” About.com Stress Management. About.com, 22 Sept. 2011. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.
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