Looking for a way to relax

Stress is everywhere.

In the workplace, at home or in school, everyone can relate to stress.

According to Dr. John Ward of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, stress over a prolonged period could lead to noticeable differences.

“One might start to experience physical illnesses, the immune system starts to shut down, your heart will overwork and you can experience different digestion,” Ward said.

Stress isn’t just limited to certain areas. Stress from college, friends or working is higher than in years past.

According to nationwide surveys done by the Northwestern National Life Insurance Company in the 1990s, 40 percent of workers reported their jobs were extremely stressful, 25 percent viewed their jobs as the No. 1 stressor in their lives, and 26 percent of workers said they were “often or very often burned out or stressed by their work.”

For college students working part-time or full-time to help support their education, that could mean trouble.

Freshman Josh Smith is a full time student who also works 30 hours a week at Publix. Trying to juggle work, classes and homework has led to some very stressful experiences, Smith said.

“It’s hard trying to do work and classes because on the weekends I’ll have a project due, and my English class requires a lot of projects, essays and big papers,” Smith said. “It’s hard to work around that with my job and trying to juggle time management.”

Ward said that even before college, stress starts to rise among students.

“The competition for getting into college is tougher,” Ward said. “The competitiveness for enrollment is going up, and the competition for grades is a major contributing factor.”

Factors contributing to college stress might be demanding professors, writing essays or big tests.

Sophomore Derek Dillon said he worries about how tests might affect him physically and mentally.

“In most of my classes, it’s usually the fact that your grade in that class or the fact that you pass or fail is dependent on only two or three tests,” Dillon said. “It’s usually weighted pretty highly.”

Also, stress rises throughout adolescent years.

“It’s a big transition from high school to college,” sophomore Brant Holeman said. “You used to be able to get away with not studying, and here in college that’s a little different. There’s a little bit more pressure on you to perform, especially if you got scholarships or you’re not going to be able to pay for college.”

Ward said in order to cope with stress, students might have to look at themselves and change their daily habits.

“To treat stress, you have to make lifestyle changes,” Ward said. “You have to start thinking different and learning how to use problem-solving skills instead of panicking.”

All in all, there are different ways to perceive stress. To Ward, there are different kinds of stress, and students can learn how to react to it if they have the skills to do so.

“There are probably more people who are reacting to events such, war or gas prices rising, as stressful,” Ward said. ” If people experience a lot of stress, it could be positive, not negative. They could end up doing better if they can learn the social skills to do that.”

Contact Thomas Carriganat oraclethomas@yahoo.com