Students answer to spring stressors

Research papers, projects, presentations, internships, part-time jobs, full-time jobs and class.

Welcome to the life of a college student.

With just three full weeks remaining in the spring semester, students and professors are feeling the stress.

So it’s appropriate that April is National Stress Awareness Month.

As the semester winds down, the stress level for most students at Youngstown State University rises.

Jay Gordon, an associate professor of English, has witnessed increasing stress levels with many of his senior students this semester. He said the stress intensifies as students scramble to finish their senior projects.

“A lot of people work well under pressure and at the last minute,” Gordon said.

He said more students are visiting his office each day for help with their projects.

Hilary Carr, a senior professional writing and editing major, said she is feeling the pressure.

“This semester has been the most stressful semester of my college career,” Carr said. “Between my senior project, the other two core courses I’m taking, the courses I’m taking in my minor and other responsibilities, it’s been crazy.”

Carr said she isn’t the only one who is stressed out.

“I think if you asked any senior if they were stressed out right now, you’d get an overwhelming response,” Carr said.

The workload has been troublesome.

“There have been tears,” Carr said.

According to College and Finance, a website that offers financial and general college advice for students and families, the top five student stressors are finances, academics, time management, roommate conflicts and relationships.

The site provided five ways to counter stress: increased sleep, regular exercise, a healthy diet, listening to music and managing time.

Mike Libbey, a junior mechanical engineering major, said a full course load coupled with his work schedule often stresses him out at this point in the semester.

His advice to other busy students is simple: “Keep on living and look to good friends.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, has another strategy: daily mindfulness meditation. In “A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit,” Ryan touts its effects.

“Mindfulness trains your mind to be in the zone and acts as a huge stress reducer. By putting your mind in the present moment, you are able to get things done more efficiently,” Ryan said.

Ryan said he believes that mindfulness should be a key part of every student’s life.

Ryan, who regularly meditates, said he sees its overwhelming benefits in his life, such as greater concentration and a stronger work ethic.

“By practicing mindful meditation, I am able to protect myself from that, and when I start to go down that path, it’s easier for me to catch myself and stay focused,” Ryan said.

For students who are stressed out at the end of the semester, Ryan suggests meditating.

“Starting mindful meditation now is the best time for students to start. Exam time can be very stressful, and it is also the most important time to train your mind to focus,” Ryan said. “Five to 10 minutes in the morning is all it takes.”

The American Psychological Association reports that increased stress causes insomnia, irritability, anger, fatigue, changes in eating habits, lack of motivation and headaches.

More than half of Americans claim that stress has also led to health issues, the APA reports.

But school isn’t the only thing behind most students’ stress.

For sophomore Daniele Harris, who is involved with the Residence Hall Association, stress is more than a crowded class schedule.

“My mother also bugs me and stresses me out by always calling me,” Harris said.

Sophomore Matt English, who said school is the most stressful part of his life, said he does everything he can to cope with the pressure.

“I play sports at the Rec or outside, listen to and play music, or just watch movies. I try to do anything I can do to relax and take my mind off of school,” English said.  

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