Let’s Get Physical: Exercise, an Effective Method of Dealing with Academic Stress

KAITLYN SZILAGYI, Health and Beauty Editor

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As the semester enters its sixth week, students are beginning to feel the stress of coursework and other responsibilities.

Stress is the body’s response to some external stimulus which disrupts the everyday psyche and physical equilibrium of a person. As stress is able to weaken one’s immune system, it is not at all uncommon for one to develop a cold after prolonged periods of worry or anxiety.

‘[Stress is] usually one of the reasons students come in,” Counseling Center Staff Psychologist Dr. Mariesa Cruz-Tillery said. “Usually, some type of stressor has happened which prompts them to make that first appointment.”

The Counseling Center acts as an option for students who are dealing with stress of any kind. The Center’s relaxation room utilizes a Buddha Board, Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp, and massage chair as well.

The Buddha Board requires only the use of water, with which one can draw upon the board’s surface and the design will become bold. As the water evaporates, the image will gradually fade, “leaving you with a clean slate and a clear mind, ready to create a whole new masterpiece,” according to the Buddha Board’s website.

Students must complete a brief training workshop and reserve the room for an appointment of up to thirty minutes prior to using the relaxation room. The room can only be used one person at a time.

According to Cruz-Tillery, while there is no single way to best deal with stress—as everyone’s resources, circumstances, and reactions to stress vary in kind and degree—there is something students can do in an effort to help themselves: be physically active.

This form of treatment is also highly recommended based on research conducted on college campuses. In their article “An Association Between College Students’ Health Promotion Practices and Perceived Stress,” Ying Li and Billie J. Lindsey of Western Washington University note that “students need to engage in health promotion practices at a ‘routine’ level to reap the benefits of lowering stress.”

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America sponsors this view that exercise is the preferred method of coping with stress, and physicians seem to agree as well: “Studies show [exercise] is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function.” Exercise releases endorphins, key in acting as “natural painkillers” and improving one’s ability to sleep through the night.

Research also suggests that stresses, particularly academic, run higher during exam weeks. With midterms quickly approaching, don’t hesitate to frequent the gym, do some yoga, or perhaps simply pause from studying to take a walk if tension begins to run high. Perhaps the fresh air and exercise will offer some relief.

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