First year students who are making a transition into University culture sometimes encounter stress when trying to adapt to the environment. The first year may appear stressful as a result of the student’s attempt to understand the unfamiliar surroundings and fitting in. Palmer and Puri (2006) define stress as a situation that occurs when one recognizes that they cannot handle the demands being made on them or hazards to their welfare (p.8). This paper will evaluate and discuss the reasons stress has become an issue at this stage and methods of dealing with it will be identified. Later, recommendations to the school of psychology will be presented according to the nature of the findings.
Reasons why Stress becomes an issue
Palmer and Puri (2006) find that when one faces threatening or challenging circumstances, the body tends to go through logical mechanisms that prepare it for action. It experiences a high state of alert thus consuming more energy and other natural resources. This response was therefore considered very valuable when dealing with types of stress triggers especially during the early period. Today however, it is seldom considered an efficient way of dealing with the troubles being faced today and therefore it has become a prominent matter over the decades.
While the body returns to its normal state of equilibrium when the stressful situation is over, it is however likely that the situation will not just pass and therefore if not dealt with accordingly, it will accumulate over time and become a health hazard (Palmer and Puri, 2006, p.9).
Nist-Olejnik and Holschuh (2007) find that when one is at a new college stress may arise when one faces new responsibilities or happens to be away from home. In addition, the professors may have decided to schedule exams on the same week or even the same day. Thus a new student may be stressed as a result of experiencing difficulty in dealing with various changes in a short period of time (p.101).
Another occurrence of stress as described by Nist-Olejnik and Holschuh may be due to the fact that a student may not know even one person in campus (p.101). It is further explored that meeting new people can be a stressful situation for some students. The types of students who encounter social stress are divided into two categories:
There are those who are not comfortable with interacting with various types of students in campus and therefore try to make themselves invisible so that they are not noticed easily.
There is a category that encounters social stress because they know too many people around campus and therefore are faced with so many social obligations that they must fulfill if they are going to survive in the university society. (p.103).
Blerkom (2008) observes that numerous students attending college experience stress due to anxiety as a result of their academic performance. They come to realize later that the courses offered are much more challenging and fast paced compared to the high school ones. This matter prompts them to become stressed when contemplating on how to achieve what their families expect of them (p.24).
Changes in lifestyle are a common cause that contributes to stress for college students. The concept of balancing school responsibilities and home life, whereby students find themselves unable to find enough time for social activities with friends and family. Additionally, stress may arise due to living on their own, a situation in which they are required to manage various responsibilities and priorities for the first time.
Dealing with Stress
Blerkom (2008) suggests that one of the most effective ways of dealing with stress is to get rid of it by taking control of how individuals use their time through developing a “To Do” list, if one is concerned about completing all the work on time. This proves to be effective when important due dates recorded help people organize their time properly thus relieving anxiety.
Another solution provided by Blerkom is trying to find social support. Talking about the stressful situation one is facing is a good method of getting rid of the stress because the other person may be able to recommend a way in which someone can deal with the problem. They may be able to give some insight that one had not come across initially (Blerkom, 2008, p.25).
Nist-Olejnik and Holschuh (2007) suggest several ways in which one can relieve stress. Some of them are:
i. Doing something for fun with the aim of rediscovering one self. One can go trying various activities advertised in flyers around campus.
ii. Paying attention to one’s strengths when one feels that they cannot make it at a certain activity. This is because everyone is talented at something.
iii. Relaxation or meditation is also suggested. One is advised to take a few minutes daily to relax excluding cell phones, computers, television and conversations. Meditation techniques such as yoga for those who prefer it are also proposed.
iv. Excessive commitment which leads to stress should be avoided. It is advised that one should choose commitments cautiously. Those activities that get in the way of one achieving a goal are to be turned down.
Blerkom (2008) emphasizes that students should ask for help and stresses that it is the right decision. She observes that numerous students are reluctant to ask for help since they assume the problem can be solved individually. Therefore students should seek help from professors and lecturers since they are the professionals. Doing this will save students the trouble of stressing themselves wondering how they can take care of a particular problem.
In the early days, the body would react to a stressful situation by performing logical mechanisms in preparation for a reaction. However, these days those mechanisms are rarely efficient. This has led to the conclusion that stress could become a health hazard if not dealt with accordingly. Therefore various techniques such as meditation are used to relieve stress. Additionally, one is to avoid stress by choosing engagements carefully while avoiding those that will get in the way of achieving an objective.