Don’t let stress become hazardous to your health

College offers new experiences and challenges. This can be an exciting time, but it can also be stressful and make you feel sad. Before students come to college they are in a structured environment and that helps keep them stable.

However, once they get to college and that structure disappears, they may not know how to maintain their stability. Stress can accumulate and turn into depression, leaving you feeling physically and mentally exhausted.

Depression can lead to the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Very often, students self-medicate themselves with drugs to change the way they are feeling. They use drugs to mask their feelings of ups and downs.

As the anxiety builds, students often have trouble sleeping. As a result their immune systems weaken and their drug use gets more intense.

There may be no way to take the stress out of calculus, but you don’t have to let school anxieties consume your life. We need to be more realistic about our goals and learn to accept things we can’t change. I’ve found that developing sound study habits such as beginning assignments early rather than the last minute; cutting back on all-night cram sessions, and not drinking or smoking while hitting the books help to reduce stress.

If you have strong feelings that won’t go away, you may want to seek professional help. It is wise to talk about your problems and encourage others to share their perspectives. Sharing your feelings with friends, professors, classmates and family will help you work through what is taking place in your life.

I find that talking with others will relieve stress and help you realize that other people have similar feelings. Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed-it’s not a sign of weakness.

Use on-campus resources such as the Center For Human Development and the student health clinic. The staff there is familiar with the ills of college students. Take advantage of mentors, peer counselors and study groups.

Stress and depression are prominent concerns among students, but don’t let it become hazardous to your health. Don’t let fear of what others might say or think stop you from doing what’s best for you. Be good to yourself.

Kaye Dallas,32, is a senior public relations student from Miami. She can be reached at