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Stress is a considerable problem in the modern society. People often experience high levels of stress due to being overwhelmed with a wide range of duties, such as work, studying, family duties, etc. In particular, college students are one group that is rather susceptible to stress, and can feel the adverse consequences of it very often (Brougham et al. 85); however, there are certain techniques that might help these learners overcome stress.
Causes of Stress in College Students
There are a number of causes of stress among college students (Lund et al. 127-129); according to Brougham et al., some of these causes include daily hassles, financial factors, and academic factors (90). The daily hassles that students are forced to deal with in the process of studying as identified by Brougham et al. are not directly related to college life; in fact, they include such problems as being stuck in traffic congestions, awakening too late in the morning, and the inability to find a place for parking (89). The financial causes of stress that college students are faced with include such issues as the need to pay one’s bills, the dearth of financial resources, and spending too much money when one should have not done so (Brougham et al. 89). Finally, the academic causes of stress, which are clearly specific to this population, include the need to write papers, especially final papers or assignments; worrying about the possibility to obtain low grades during an exam, or regret resulting from having received such; and difficulties related to the selection of one’s major (Brougham et al. 89). It is clear that students who are challenged with a large number of such stressors at the same time are more likely to develop a larger number of symptoms of stress, which have an adverse effect on these students’ ability to function effectively.
Effects of Stress
Due to stress, college students may experience such adverse outcomes as the decreased levels of cognitive functioning, the impaired ability to study, and, consequently, lower academic performance (Abdulghani et al. 516). First of all, the fact that a student is experiencing stress might have a considerable adverse effect on their ability to perform a wide range of cognitive functions, which are necessary for both proper social functioning and for participation in learning activities. Students who are stressed might feel too tired, not be able to think clearly, or unable to focus on the task at hand. Second, as a result of this, stressed learners may find themselves incapable of concentrating on learning activities and tasks, whether listening to a lecture, reading a book or article, or writing text.
Some students might also start feeling despair or experience depression, which creates further barriers for carrying out their academic duties. Finally, the inability to properly do the tasks related to learning results in decreased academic performance, leading to grades which are lower than those of learners who do not suffer from the symptoms of stress (Abdulghani et al. 517-520). It should be pointed out that the decreased academic performance, as has already been noted above, plays the role of a stressor as well, thus further impairing the learners’ ability to study. Therefore, apart from impairing the student’s ability to function, stress also accumulates and, to a certain degree, starts being the cause of itself.
Because of the serious impact of stress on the academic performance of college students, it might be recommended that students utilize coping strategies in order to decrease the level of stress (Jimenez et al. 444-447); one such strategy includes goal regulation (Neely et al. 88-89). Some authors state that goal regulation “consists of both the ability to disengage from goals that are unattainable and reengage in the pursuit of alternative goals” (qtd. in Neely et al. 89). There are a number of effects of this technique. First, a student who practices goal regulation is able to identify goals that are not attainable, and redirect their attention to aims that can be achieved in practice, which results in a more efficacious use of the temporal resources and the energy that a student possesses; consequently, students are less overwhelmed with tasks and thus may experience lower levels of stress.
Second, pursuing more concrete goals permits a student to direct their efforts towards these goals, thus considerably increasing their chance to achieve them; such an achievement can be viewed as a certain type of reward, thus increasing the student’s level of satisfaction and demonstrating them that they can achieve aims that they set. And finally, students who can disengage from pursuing unattainable and wasteful goals may be able to start “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel”; in practice, they experience fewer intrusive thoughts and lower levels of helplessness (Neely et al. 89). Therefore, goal regulation has a considerable potential as a method for overcoming stress, for it permits students to better distribute their resources, gain certain achievements, and stop feeling helpless.
Thus, college students often suffer from stress, which can have profoundly adverse effects on their lives; however, certain techniques might allow these people to overcome this problem (Caldwell et al. 433-435). Numerous issues cause stress in college students; these include daily hassles, financial and academic factors. Stress can impair students’ cognitive function, the ability to learn, and decrease their academic performance. However, goal regulation might help them to overcome stress. It should also be noted that this and other techniques for stress coping might be useful not only for college students but for other populations as well.
Abdulghani, Hamza M., et al. “Stress and Its Effects on Medical Students: A Cross-Sectional Study at a College of Medicine in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, vol. 29, no. 5, 2011, pp. 516-522.
Brougham, Ruby R., et al. “Stress, Sex Differences, and Coping Strategies Among College Students.” Current Psychology, vol. 28, 2009, pp. 85-97.
Caldwell, Karen, et al. “Developing Mindfulness in College Students Through Movement Based Courses: Effects on Self-Regulatory Self-Efficacy, Mood, Stress, and Sleep Quality.” Journal of American College Health, vol. 58, no. 5, 2010, pp. 433-442.
Jimenez, Cristobal, et al. “Stress and Health in Novice and Experienced Nursing Students.” Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol. 66, no. 2, 2010, pp. 442-455.
Lund, Hannah G., et al. “Sleep Patterns and Predictors of Disturbed Sleep in a Large Population of College Students.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 46, 2010, pp. 124-132.
Neely, Michelle E., et al. “Self-Kindness When Facing Stress: The Role of Self-Compassion, Goal Regulation, and Support in College Students’ Well-Being.” Motivation and Emotion Journal, vol. 33, 2009, pp. 88-97.