We’ve all had the feeling before. Your stomach
is in knots. Your muscles are tense. You feel defeated. You feel low and unhappy. When you
try to think of a solution, or of a way out, you go blank. You’re stressed. The American
Institute of Stress defines stress as physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension. I’m
very interested in the topic of stress management because as a college student I’m faced with
all different kinds of stress. After reading articles on the topic I would like to inform
all of you of a few reasons for stress and then some tips to help you manage your stress
and make college life more enjoyable. First, I’ll talk about some of the reasons for stress.
Although I’m sure that there are many everyone here probably has their own reasons, I’m going
to stick to three main reasons that you can probably relate to. The first one is the amount
of schoolwork. College can be so demanding due to such a heavy workload that we’re expected
to keep up with. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed. We have projects, tests, papers, exams, midterms,
finals, co-ops. Stress can easily build without a good strategy of tackling these assignments.
A second reason is pressure to do well. Pressure to do well can come from within. That’s the
inner drive, that inner motivation pushing you to succeed. Most here desire to do their
best and to get good grades. The Methods of Healing website conducted research and found
that 71 percent of college students say that their grades have a direct effect on their
level of stress. Pressure to do well can also be external. That’s your family, your friends,
your coaches, your teachers, your professors. Everybody who wants to see you succeed. Wanting
to live up to the high expectations that they place on you can be pretty stressful. A third
reason is change in environment. Now this may affect some of us more than others, depending
on if you’re from Rochester or not, but going away to college means leaving behind everything
that’s familiar. Your close family, they’re not with you. Your friends, they’re not with
you. Some students have never been away from home which can be a difficult adjustment.
Then, once you’re here at RIT there’s social acceptance, peer pressure–these are issues
we may face since we’re in a new environment. Wanting to fit in can be a challenge and often
is. Now, let’s recap the three reasons we talked about. First was the amount of schoolwork,
second was pressure to succeed, and third was dealing with a new environment. Now that
we know the three reasons, let’s examine some tips to help reduce the stress. There are
five simple things we can do to manage our stress. I created an acronym to help me remember
the tips. The word I’m using is relax: R-E-L-A-X. We’ll go over each letter one by one. The
first letter, letter R, stands for Recognize. We have to recognize the source of our stress
before we can address it. Once you realize why you’re stressed, why not keep a journal?
Write down everything that you feel. Writing makes you feel more relieved and allows you
to pinpoint any trends in your stress. The second letter, letter E, stands for Exercise.
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine takes your mind off of problems you may have,
and not to mention, it’s good for your body. So create a routine. Set aside time for exercise.
Set aside time for classes–for studying, for homework, and then schedule in downtime
for yourself. In the end you’ll feel less overwhelmed. The third letter, L, L stands
for Let it go. Think about the stressful situation. Will it matter in five years? Will it matter
in ten years? If it will matter, take a deep breath and address the stressful situation
piece by piece and step by step. If it won’t matter in five years or ten years then let
it go. Stressing over small things is tiring and unnecessary. The fourth letter, letter
A stands for Attitude. When you talk about school do you say things like, “Ugh, I’m gonna
fail,” or “That test was so hard I bombed it, I’m never gonna learn this material.”
If you do that may sound pessimistic and doubtful. You can self-reflect and adjust your attitude.
According to a 2005 Stress Management article, being optimistic and having a positive outlook
has a direct connection with how we feel, even with how well we perform. Now the last
letter is X. You’re probably wondering what word I came up with to start with this, so
I cheated a little bit and it stands for eXtra sleep. All students need sleep for energy.
Are you not getting enough? Go to the letter R–recognize why am I not getting enough sleep?
Maybe it’s because you’re hanging out with your friends until two, three, four in the
morning. Why not cut down that time? You can still hang out with them, just not as long.
Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep because you have too much homework. You pull an all-nighter,
cramming for an exam, up till 5AM. Why not make a better schedule? And then stick to
that schedule. Don’t procrastinate. When you map out your time and you stick to a routine
you’ll realize that you have enough time to get everything done, even sleep. In the end
we’ll be less frustrated when we get the sleep we needed. Another interesting point that
I found is that all stress is not bad. Distress is bad stress. That’s what we’ve been focusing
on in this speech. But then there’s also good stress, that’s called eustress. Eustress comes
from excitement or adrenaline. But, to focus on managing our negative stress let’s try
to remember all of the tips and the word relax. R, recognize where the stress is coming from
and address it. E, exercise daily. L, let go of minor problems, don’t worry about it.
And A, adjust your attitude and be more positive. And X, get eXtra sleep. In conclusion, we
cannot ignore the fact that stress occurs in our lives. Regardless of the reasons we
have to manage it one way or another. Above all, from my speech I hope you take away useful
tips to deal with your stress so that college is more enjoyable. Even if you can’t remember
what each letter stands for, do just what the word says, and relax.