Auburn Family

'Stressed' Spelled Backwards is 'Desserts'

A typical concourse conversation:

"Hey! How are you?"

"Good, just busy. You?"

"Same. See you later!"

Everyone in college is busy. Classes are rigorous; involvement is time-consuming; work is inconvenient; socializing is a must; and eating, sleeping and doing laundry are necessary. There are only 24 hours in the day. Stressed?  (Photo, right: Pexels)

Is it possible to be academically excellent, involved, productive, sociable, responsible and mentally sane?

Dr. Eric Bloch, psychologist and outreach coordinator for Auburn University Student Counseling Services, believes so.

Balance important to stress management

"It is possible for students to have a busy life with a manageable level of stress," said Bloch. "Some stress is even beneficial, because it motivates a person to complete work and reach life goals."

Stress turns detrimental when areas of students' lives become unbalanced.

"Too much stress can cause inefficiency and inability to focus," said Bloch.

Managing a college schedule

Katie Willoughby, an Auburn University senior majoring in communication disorders, with a minor in psychology, believes that balance is key to managing stress.

Academics keep Katie busy, and she spends roughly 12-14 hours per week reviewing material outside of class. She is also currently applying for graduate school, where she plans to earn her masters of science in speech language pathology.

Katie enjoys involvement in War Eagle Girls and Plainsmen and her social sorority, for which she recently served as chair of the Greek Sing team. She also attends Cornerstone Church, and leads a weekly Bible study. Katie participates in extracurricular activities roughly 10 hours per week. (Photo: Katie Willoughby)

She has also held an on-campus job as a class checker, working six hours per week.

"Sometimes I do feel overwhelmed by my obligations," said Katie. "I have improved my stress management skills, though, by prioritizing my responsibilities and decreasing procrastination."

Practical tips

Avoid overcommitment, Katie recommends, by taking on responsibilities according to personal priorities. Decide what is most important, what is desirable for learning and who is positive for influence. Then, believing they are worth the sacrifice of time, seek involvement in those areas. If the sacrifice becomes too great, cut back.

Budget time wisely with a calendar that includes months, weeks, days and hours. Use it to plan ahead for obligations, events and chores. Writing down even menial tasks ensures that they will not be overlooked, allowing other aspects of life to run smoothly. (Photo: Katie Willoughby)

Provide means for productivity by prioritizing physical and mental health. Bloch asserts that regular sleep and exercise, nutritious meals and fun are necessary to avoid overwhelming stress. Katie regularly attends group fitness classes, routinely cooks at home and makes time for friends, family and rest.

Stay focused by practicing mindfulness, a strategy that emphasizes mental presence in whatever task or activity is at hand. Students produce better-quality work and move through their to-do lists quicker when they are focused on the present and not worried about what is to come, according to Bloch.

Taking steps to manage stress is worth the effort.

"Students with manageable stress levels will most likely be happier and more satisfied with their college experience than those who are overly stressed," says Bloch.

Resources available

Free stress management tools available through Auburn University Student Counseling Services include: individual and group counseling; the Zen Den, featuring massage chairs and biofeedback equipment; the Anxiety Tool Box workshop; time with Dr. Moose, SCS's certified therapy dog; and mindfulness-based meditation at the Auburn University Recreation and Wellness Center. Students may contact the Student Counseling Services office at 334-844-5123.



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