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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

Stress is normal -- how we manage it is the trick to learn

By Misty Johnson

December 15, 2006 | It is normal to have stress but it's how you manage it that may cause problems, says Dr. John Barrett. He is a family physician who has been at the USU Student Health and Wellness Center filling in for the last couple of weeks.

"I think it's important to recognize that you are under stress so that you can take steps to manage that stress correctly," said Barrett.

Young people tend to be healthier so when students seek medical attention Barrett said it is usually not stress that is causing an illness, but rather stress complicating something else that is going on. Most students who suffer from stress or an illness brought on by stress usually don't seek medical attention for it, they just deal with it.

He also said that getting a normal amount of rest and planning ahead can decrease students' stress levels. "All-nighters throw off your psychological balance and caffeine will only add to that."

It is not uncommon for college students to stay up all night writing a term paper or cramming for a final exam. USU student LeAnn Roundy said she knows that sleep is necessary for the brain to organize the information it receives. Cramming the night before without getting any sleep doesn't help much, but the reality of cramming doesn't sink in until she gets to the exam and can't remember what she had just finished studying.

Prioritizing is one way that college students can decrease stress. Tara Kuther, Ph.D. at recommends that students use a school planner or calendar with plenty of space for lists. Taking time to plan and organize as well as breaking large assignments and tasks into smaller components will greatly reduce students' stress levels and allow more time for more exciting things. Kuther claims that the reality of the situation is that there really isn't enough time in the day, but learning to prioritize will help students maximize the time that they have.

Many sources including the International Stress Management Association agree that planning is a way of minimizing stress. Setting both long-term and
short-term goals will help students especially. Students can set goals for each semester as well as each school year as a way to make their goals seem less overwhelming.

In an online article, College Students and Stress, which is available at, learning to manage stress is both physical and physiological. Adding a workout to your schedule at least every other day and finding 20 minutes of "alone time" to relax are both ways of easing and controlling stress.

The USU Counseling Center Reach Peers along with Psi Chi, sponsored the "Stress Bust" which was held last week in the TSC Sunburst Lounge. It provided students with relaxing activities such as massages, games and even some recorded stand-up comedy by Brian Reagan. Many students who participated in the Stress Bust agreed that simply taking your mind off of what stresses you will help relieve that stress. "It's a nice break and I like the relaxing atmosphere," said USU student Jennie Talbot.

"This is just one of the many things we do for the students, we hold different events throughout the year and decide what to do based on what the students' needs are," said Heather Thompson of the Reach Peers. It was no coincidence that the Stress Bust was held during Finals Week. Thompson along with Tim Macnair, also a Reach Peer, explained that this is one way of helping students become more aware of stress and what they can do to cope with that stress. They also said it was a way of helping students become more aware of the outlets that are available to them such as the counseling center.

Another way to cope with stress is as simple as talking to someone. Barrett said that having someone who will listen to you and be able to understand what you are going through can be very helpful. It could be as simple as talking with a roommate or a friend, but that doesn't exclude seeing a counselor or other professionals.

"I do think talking can help, I have a friend who I tell everything to and after I talk to her, all of my problems seem a lot smaller than they did before," said Katie Rose, a USU student.

Not dealing with stress may have extremely negative repercussions. At the term overstress is used to describe chronic or high levels of stress which build up over time. Overstress is a condition which could result in physical illness, as well as anxiety and depression. Learning how to manage stress as a student is vital for maintaining your health and overall well-being.



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