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Essay on Managing Stress

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Stress is natural. So, to the extent that stress is a sign of vitality, stress is good. Yet most of us never really learn how to cope effectively with stress-producing situations, and the result is that stress can overwhelm us, undermining our ability to perform. The primary way to manage stress is to modify it with something that enhances our feeling of control in the situation.

The best starting point for handling stress is to be in good shape physically and mentally, by eating, sleeping, and exercising to reasonable degrees. If you are uncertain about what constitutes a healthy diet or whether yours is healthy, ask your campus health or counseling office for information, consult the library or take a brief wellness course. Also...determine how much caffeine you may be consuming on a regular basis. In moderate amounts ( 50-200 milligrams per day), caffeine increases alertness and reduces feelings of fatigue, but even at this low dosage it tends to make you perkier during one part of the day and more tired later and may give you headaches when you try to cut down. Consumed in larger quantities, it may cause nervousness, headaches, irritability, stomach irritation, and insomnia. Don't overdo caffeine.

If starting college means a major change in your sleep habits, consider whether these are entirely necessary or due to a lifestyle choice that you may need to modify. You probably already know how much sleep you need to maintain a good daily routine. Being rested makes you more efficient when you are awake. It also helps to make a lot of other activities more enjoyable and cuts down the likelihood that you'll succumb to annoying diseases that enjoy preying on fatigued students.

Exercise regularly. You may feel that you have no time for regular exercise, but even a daily regimen of stretches each morning can help lower stress, keep you looking and feeling trim, and make you feel better. Most often, regular exercise enhances your energy.

Although competitive sports are fun and a great way to meet friends, and although weight training may be appealing, it's more beneficial to find an aerobic activity---swimming, jogging, brisk walking, cycling, or vigorous racquet sports---that strengthens your cardiovascular system and gives other physiological benefits. People who undertake aerobic exercise report more energy, less stress, better sleep, weight loss, and an improved self-image.

Stress has many sources, but there are two prevailing theories as to its origin. The first is the life events theory, which attributes health risks to events that have occurred in the previous twelve months of a person's life.

[ The College Readjustment Rating Scale, adapted from a scale by T.H. Holmes and R.H. Rahe, was developed to help college students evaluate the stress in their lives. On the scale, there is a list of thirty possible stressors such as female unwed pregnancy (high stress, 92 points), failing



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