We’ve all been there.

You’re in the thick of the semester, going to your classes, maybe even working. You’re noticing that your homework is piling up, and all of a sudden, your mid-terms are here. You’re doing everything you can to knock things off of that to-do list, but it seems like every time you check one item off, another one pops up in its place. Before you know it, you’re stressed out of your mind and don’t know what to do.

Over time, stress has been linked to decreased work effectiveness and poor academic performance, according to an article published by New York University. It has even been attributed to “headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety … (and) immune system suppression, which can increase susceptibility to physical illness and psychological conditions,” the article further states.

These stress-related illnesses have symptoms including changes in sleeping/eating patterns, a shorter temper, and reoccurring colds and minor illnesses, according to an article published on the University of Tennessee’s Center for Health Education & Wellness website.

Speaking from experience, dealing with stress and its side-effects is not what I would exactly call a “fun” time. I have had issues with stress for several years now, getting so worked up at times that I would become sick. But since entering college and adjusting to a new environment, being stressed seems to be the new norm for me and the majority students around me.

Yes, we all know that going to college and receiving a degree is an important part of growing up, but so should learning how to manage the stress that comes along with it.

Kansas State University created a stress-management pamphlet to assist students in handling stress. With mid-term exams coming up, I wanted to try them while studying to see how well they helped me with my stress.

Although the pamphlet included many techniques, my favorite two where the “Diaphragmatic Breathing” and “Releasing Tension” exercises.

The “Diaphragmatic Breathing” strategy suggested placing your hand on your belly button, closing your eyes, and taking deep breaths in and out. While breathing slowly, you’re supposed to focus on your hand and how it is moving.

The “Releasing Tension” technique focuses on tensing your entire body for five seconds and then releasing the tension all at once while exhaling.

These two approaches worked best for me because they helped me to concentrate on my breathing technique and taking time to focus on the present. After performing these techniques, I felt lighter and more focused on the studying.

The University of Tennessee is also attempting to aid its students in tackling stress. The university offers a great amount of resources to students who are suffering from stress-related issues that can be accessed on the Center for Health and Wellness webpage.

They first offer "Eight Steps to Stress-Proof Your Day" where tips to prevent or manage stress are laid out for students. These steps include meditating, getting enough sleep, and regularly exercising, which the university claims will help “(students) learn to manage and maintain stress at relatively healthy levels.”

The Center for Health and Wellness page also provides information about the Student Counseling Center and its services, including information about “(support) group sessions that can be helpful for stress reduction … including groups that focus on stress management and anxiety and building resiliency.”

These are especially helpful around mid-term and final exam weeks because you have the ability to talk openly with others about what you are going through and learn about new studying tips and tricks that you maybe haven’t thought previously about.

UT also created the 974-HELP hotline to help students “reach their academic goals and to help maintain a safe community and learning environment for all students.” The 974-HELP website provides information about the campus helpline for “help(ing) distressed or distressing students.”

The website also has links to other campus resources that can be helpful, such as the Student Success Center and academic support pages. These resources are especially helpful when I’m feeling stressed about an upcoming exam or a class in general. People at these offices truly want to help students succeed here at UT, which makes them valuable assets to whomever takes advantage of them.

College is a part of growing up, and so should learning to manage stress. Learning how to approach stress while still in college will help students like you and I manage stress healthily later on in life during more stressful times.

Stephanie Mathers can be reached at smathers@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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