Are you feeling stressed?

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Students are exposed to a load of stressors during their college experience. From the adjustment into college and adulthood to the everyday factors like social pressures, work and family responsibilities, there is stress coming from every direction.

Stress is the body’s normal reaction when change occurs. Your body can respond to these changes mentally, physically or emotionally. The body is designed to experience and react to stress.

Most people think of stress as something negative and that’s usually because they’re facing continuous challenges without some sort of relief or relaxation between stressors. However, stress can actually be positive; it keeps one motivated, alert and ready to avoid danger.

“I think we all need to acknowledge our stress because that’s the first step in mental self-care” said Florida A&M University graduate Ricardo Brown.

Stress can affect your health if the stress response goes on for too long or becomes chronic, so it’s important to focus on how you deal with minor and major stressors so that you know when to seek help.

Over time, continued strain on your body from routine or chronic stress can contribute to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses. There is also an increased risk for mental disorders like depression and anxiety to develop.

It’s important to take the proper steps to manage your stress in order to reduce or prevent these effects. The following are some tips that may help you cope with stress: get regular exercise; try a relaxing activity, or set goals and priorities.

“I deal with stress by dancing, singing, or exercising. Keeping active gives me sort of a distraction from the problems that are stressing me,” said Florida Atlantic University student Tamera Hawthorne.

A 2016 poll conducted by the American College Health Association found that 34.4 percent of college students reported that stress was negatively impacting their academic performance. Stress was the most common response on academic performance, followed by depression, anxiety and sleep difficulties.

It’s not uncommon for people to experience stress in very different ways. You can experience an array of physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive reactions. Here are a few of the symptoms that can occur when you experience stress: increased heart rate, stomach aches, fatigue, hostility, helplessness, loneliness, drug or alcohol abuse, memory loss, loss of concentration, negative outlook, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders.

“Last year I had a lot going on, I found myself not able to eat or sleep as much and it started to worry me,” said Jordan Williams. “After talking to a counselor about everything I had going on I felt a lot better and was able to deal with all the stressors in my life.”

There is a plethora of resources for students struggling with stress and stress-related disorders. If you can’t or don’t want to talk to a professional, start by asking a trusted family member, friend, or advisor.